"I told you the food would be good." Blair said as he tried to keep pace with his partner. "I can't believe you made excuses for three weeks trying to avoid going. Can we say gastronomically challenged?"
Jim stopped and held up his hand. "Okay, okay, I was wrong about the food all right." He looked down at his young friend. "It just took me a while to get used to the idea of insects as a food group. Can we drop this now?"
Blair tilted his head and looked at is partner, trying to glare. "I guess so, do you promise not to put up as much of a fight the next time I suggest an alternative restaurant?"
"Only if you promise that I get to choose the next place we eat out."
"Oh, great, Wonder Burger here we come." Blair muttered.
Jim laughed at his disgruntled friend. "You never know."
"Oh, yes I do," Blair said under his breath. "I wish you could sense all of those little particles of cholesterol clogging your arteries every time you chow down..."
Jim started laughing, and stopped walking during Blair's tirade on the evils of cholesterol. It took a moment for the younger man to realize Jim was no longer beside him. He stopped and looked back He saw his partner standing a good twenty feet behind, waiting for the younger man to wind down. Blair could see the merriment on the big man's face. He shook his head and grinned sheepishly, slowly walking back to his partner. He looked up into the big man's face.
"I guess, I kind of went off on the subject, didn't I?"
"Yep, right into the Sandburg zone."
"Sorry man , I just get a little carried away."
"It's okay, Chief, one of these days I will get you converted into a lover of Wonder Burgers."
"That is like *so* not going to happen." He looked like he was about to go into another lecture about Jim's diet. Then he caught himself and gave Jim a rueful smile. "Almost did it again."
Jim tapped him on the back of the head. "Let's go home." He looked at his watch. "The Jags game starts in twenty minutes. Come on Mr. Healthy, I'll race you."
"Why not, I know CPR." Blair said and took off running, with his partner in close pursuit. They reached the loft in minutes with Blair slightly in the lead.
"Close, Chief. Only reason you won was your headstart."
"Shorter legs, quicker mind." Blair teased, gasping for air.
"Always said you were the brains of this outfit, Darwin." Jim laughed as he tried to catch his breath. He opened up his senses to scan the loft. They'd had too many unwelcome visitors to be complacent. He heard someone crying in the hallway above. Blair noticed the frown beginning to form on his partner's face.
"What is it? Do we have company?" Blair asked pulling out the cell phone.
"Yeah, but it sounds like a kid." They raced up the stairs. Both men stopped when they saw a young girl sitting on the floor in front of their door. She had her head resting on her arms. From what they could see she looked about eleven or twelve years old, she was crying in her sleep.
"Is there something you forgot to mention, big guy?"
"I don't have a clue, Chief." The two men stood watching the young girl for a few minutes. "We should probably wake her up."
"Sure, Jim, you go right ahead." Jim knelt down beside the young girl and gently shook her shoulder.
"Hey kid," he said softly. "Wake up."
The girls' eyes flew open and she scrambled away from the big man and started to shake. He motioned to his guide to move closer. "Talk to her, Chief," Jim whispered. Something about the girl was familiar and he needed to figure it out. Blair nodded; he had a pretty good track record when it came to dealing with kids. He sat on the floor a few feet away from the scared child. He began to speak in a low calm voice.
"Hi, my name is Blair. Don't worry, you're safe here."
She glanced up at him. He gave her a smile. "Are you looking for someone, or are you just hiding?"
"Looking for Jim." she whispered. Blair looked over at Jim, who motioned for him to continue.
"Why are you looking for him?"
"Caro said he could be a jerk, but she trusted him with her life." Jim moved closer to the girl. "I need his help."
She turned and took a good look at the big man. She launched herself into his arms, knocking him on his butt. She burrowed her face closer to his chest and began to cry again. Jim awkwardly patted her on the back. The 'what the hell do I do now' look was on his face. Blair was amused at this new side to his friend.
"Let's move this inside. I think the couch would be a lot more comfortable." The younger man stated. Jim nodded in agreement. Blair helped him stand. They maneuvered their way into the loft. Jim tried to set the girl on the couch, but she had her hand wrapped in his shirt and wouldn't let go. Blair went and got her a drink of water.
"Dina," she looked at Blair. "I want you to take a drink of water now, okay?" She untangled one hand from Jim's shirt and reached for the water. As she drank the water she started to calm down. Jim looked over her head to his partner and raised a questioning eyebrow.
"What can I say, crying is thirsty work." Blair said softly. He held out his hand for the now empty glass.
Dina handed him the glass, "Thank you." She said with a shy smile. She leaned her head against Jim's chest and her eyes slowly drifted shut, within minutes she was sound asleep. Jim gently laid her on the couch. Blair slipped a pillow under her head. Jim motioned for Blair to join him at the table.
"Okay, I've been very patient. Who is she?" Blair asked.
"Her name is Dina, she's Carolyn's half sister."
"Why do you think she came here?" Blair thought out loud.
"You know as much as I do, Chief." Jim shrugged. "Once she wakes up we should be able to get some answers."
"How long has it been since you saw her last." Blair asked, curious about this side of his friend's life.
"I think it was about seven months before the divorce. I never had much contact with Carolyn's family, they didn't have a very high opinion of me. Not that I can blame them. I wasn't a very nice person to be around."
Blair just shook his head. He always had trouble picturing Jim the way he was before they met. The consensus of opinion was that Jim was a royal pain in the ass. The perfect picture of a loner. Even when he was married. Everyone gave the credit to Sandburg for the radical changes in the big detective. They didn't understand how he did it; they were just grateful for the results.
"How long do you think she will sleep?" Blair asked.
"Your guess is as good as mine."
* * *
The two men quietly prepared dinner. As dinner cooked the aroma woke the girl on the couch. Jim heard the change in her breathing. She stretched and looked around confused at the unfamiliar surroundings.
"Hey Dina." Jim said to get her attention. "How are you doing?" He asked as she got up and walked to the table, sitting in the chair Blair was holding out for her.
"Okay, I guess." She looked around the loft with interest. "Wow, you've got a lot of really cool stuff." She looked at Blair. "It's got to be yours." Blair smiled, watching her eyes as she looked around at the objects in the room.
"Yeah they are, how did you know?"
She shrugged. "The last time I was here, it was so boring." She suddenly looked at Jim. Her eyes widening when she realized what she had said. "Sorry." She looked down at the table top.
Jim reached over and took her hand. "Don't be, it was very boring." He patted her hand and smiled to show her that he wasn't offended. "We have a while before dinner, do you think you can tell us what happened?"
She nodded, took a deep breath, and began.
"My dad got married again a couple of months ago, everything was okay. I mean like, Stephie is nice and all."
Blair looked at Jim and mouthed 'Stephie'. Jim just shrugged.
"She has a son Donny. He seemed like he was okay, I mean I didn't see him very much, he was away at school. I don't remember which one. When he was home he ignored me, so it was no big deal." Her pulse began to race, she had finally reached the reason for her visit. "Last week Donny came home for summer break. I walked past his room...he couldn't see me but I could see him. I saw him counting a lot of money. I knew he didn't work and there was no way my dad or Stephie would ever give him that much money." She looked down at her hands and started picking at her nails. "I started watching him. I was real careful, I only followed him once in a while. I didn't see anything until yesterday." She took a deep breath. "I saw him unloading a bunch of cases out of his car. He dropped one and it broke open. It had a bunch of white bags in it."
The two men looked at each other.
"I didn't think he saw me. I ducked back into the house." She shook her head. "Last night he came to my room and told me that he would kill me if I talked to my dad or Stephie."
"So what did you do next?" Jim asked.
"I remembered from my D.A.R.E. class that if you give in to threats the bad guys win, I don't want him to win. Since Dad is out of town, Caro is too far away, and I didn't know what Stephie would do. I mean he's her kid, not me. So I ran away, I had to tell someone. I remembered where you lived and here I am." She stared up at Jim. "You can help right?"
Jim nodded and smiled. "Yeah, we can help. But you need to do your part."
"What can I do?"
"First I need you to remember where your dad is, we don't want him to think you ran away or were kidnapped."
She thought for a minute. "He is in Chicago at the Arma..., no, the Amster, no that's not right either. I got it! He's at the Armstrong."
"Great job." Blair praised her. "I'll call and try to get in touch with him."
"Good idea, Chief."
Blair called Chicago information and had then connect him with the Armstrong. When he was connected with Plummer's room, he handed the phone to Jim and went back to the table to talk to Dina. He knew Jim would tell him about the call.
"Evan? This is Jim Ellison."
"Ellison, why are you calling me here? Is there something wrong with my family?"
"Everyone is okay for now." Jim said and began to explain.
Blair had Dina help him clear and set the table. "Jim will tell us what they decide to do." He tried to reassure the young girl. "No matter what we will not take you back, okay?"
She looked at him and smiled, "You mean it."
"Yeah, I mean it."
"So do I." Jim stated. He handed the phone to Dina.
He listened until he heard her father tell her that she had done everything right and that he was proud of her. When she hung up the phone he filled her and Blair in on the plan.
"Your dad is going to call your house and ask for you. When Stephie can't find you he is going demand that she call missing persons and report you missing."
"I thought you had to wait twenty four hours?" she asked. "That's what they say on TV."
"You don't have to wait when a child is missing. Then Blair and I are going to investigate your disappearance. That way we don't tip off Donny that we are investigating him."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "And what are you going to do with me?"
"You are going to be under guard until this situation is taken care of."
A belligerent look crossed her face. Jim and Blair glared at her. "Don't even think about disobeying us about this."
"I just want to help, that's all," she pouted.
"You have already given us a lot of help. If you really want to help, you can write down a list of Donny's friends."
She smiled. "I can do that." She hurried off to find a piece of paper.
"After dinner will be soon enough." Jim smiled at her enthusiasm, it reminded him of his young partner.
After dinner, she made her list. Jim glanced over it knowing there wasn't anything to do until the next day. The three settled back to watch TV. They finally agreed on a Charlie Chaplin movie they stumbled on while channel surfing.
Blair went to the kitchen to get a drink. As he passed the table he glanced at the list. He saw couple of names he recognized from the university. If he remembered right they didn't have very good reputations.
"Hey Jim," Blair said as he walked over to the couch looking at the list.
"Sh-h, she fell asleep." Jim whispered.
"You want to just let her sleep there for tonight." Blair dropped to a whisper.
"Yeah, she should be all right. I'll keep an ear out for her. I don't want to wake her up just to move her." Jim explained. "Now, what did you want to tell me?"
"I recognize some of the names on the list. One of these guys is in my anthro class."
"Does he seem like the type to get involved in something like this?"
"Could be, he's an indifferent student, the kind that comes across with a major, 'I don't give a rat's butt about anything' attitude."
"We'll deal with all this tomorrow. Right now I'm going to bed. I suggest you do the same, Chief. Don't stay up all night reading."
* * *
The next morning they put their plan into operation. They filled Simon in on the details.
"You know that missing persons is going to need to be filled in, and so will narcotics." Simon warned them.
"Captain we'll keep them involved and informed." Jim assured Simon.
"It looks like you are about to have your first meeting." Simon announced when he spotted Grace McNally from missing persons sailing through major crimes like a battle ship under a full head of steam.
Jim could hear her asking the detectives in the bull pen his location. Simon graciously opened his door. "McNally, my office." Simon yelled.
As she walked through the door she tossed a file at Jim. "Ellison, I don't know what your game is," She said angrily. When she saw Jim smile and show the report to Sandburg she went ballistic. "Don't you have enough cases up here that you need to pull cases from missing persons. I'm sure this man, Plummer thinks you are some kind of wonder cop, but my department is fully capable of handling a missing persons case."
"McNally, sit down." Simon ordered.
"Captain I want an explanation, I think I deserve that much. Especially if a civilian can just call up and assign cases."
"If you will be quiet for a minute, we will explain." Blair said calmly.
She glared at the young observer and Ellison in turn.
"Evan Plummer, is my ex father-in-law. The supposedly missing child is his youngest daughter."
"What do you mean Supposedly?" she demanded.
"You are interrupting." Jim warned her waiting until she sat back before continuing. "Dina Plummer is at this minute sitting at my desk playing video games on my computer."
McNally quickly turned and saw the young girl she had passed by without seeing on her way in. She sat back with a totally confused look on her face. Blair took pity on the confused Detective.
"Dina ran to our place when she was threatened by her step-brother. She had seen him with large sums of money and drugs. She knew Jim would be able to help. We needed to have everything set up so we can investigate the step-brother without letting him know he is the one we are after."
During their explanation Simon called the Narcotics division and asked for one of their detectives.
"Are you all going to play nice or do I have to put you in time out?" Simon asked glaring at the occupants of the room.
"We'll behave. Right, McNally?" Jim asked the calming detective.
"Yeah, we'll be good, Captain Banks. Sorry about the scene." She apologized.
"Just don't let it happen again. Now, get out of here and get to work." He turned to the paperwork on his desk dismissing the trio.
They saw Detective Carey from Narcotics as they left the office. Jim turned to his partner. "Chief, would you introduce McNally to Dina, fill her in, and see if you can find anything on our list of suspects. I'll talk to Carey and see what he know about our boys and arrange protection for Dina."
"You got it, no problem." Blair led McNally over to the desk, and introduced he to the young girl. Once he noted that they were getting along just fine without him, he turned to the computer, searching for the guys on the list.
He wasn't aware of time passing and before he knew it Jim was tapping him on the shoulder. "I swear you have your own zone outs when you get caught up in that thing." Blair shook his head and gathered up his papers. "Let's get going," he turned to Dina. "Officer Larkin will be staying with you until we get back." He knelt down by the chair. "You okay with this?" She nodded but he could see the fear in her eyes. "I promise we will be back. Everything will be all right."
Blair put his hand on her head. She looked up at him. He smiled and said, "He never breaks his promises."
"Never, ever." He assured her. They each gave her a hug and left to investigate Mr. Donny Thompson. Thompson didn't know it but his life was going to be turned upside down by a very pissed off Sentinel and Guide. Their protective instincts on high.
On the drive to the Plummer house Blair pulled back his hair in order to look a bit more professional. Jim looked at his Partner and smiled.
"Good idea, Chief, now you don't look like you work narcotics."
"Yeah last thing we want to do is tip Donny boy that he's the target." He grinned at he partner. "This is one guy I'm looking forward to investigating."
As they pulled into the drive Jim spotted the blue Mercedes convertible, Dina had described as belonging to Donny.
"Looks like we're in luck,Chief, he's home. Let's see how upset he is that his 'little sister' is missing."
Jim knocked on the front door. It was quickly opened by a very distraught woman.
"Mrs. Plummer?" When she nodded Jim continued. "We are with the Cascade Police. You reported a missing child?"
"Yes, yes, come in. I'm Stephie Plummer."
"Can you tell us what happened?" Jim prompted her.
"I don't know what happened. I mean, we were getting along just fine. There weren't any of the usual wicked step-mother versus evil child stuff happening. We had accepted each other. I don't think she ran away. Maybe she went for a walk and is lying hurt some where." The woman was becoming hysterical. Blair moved over to her and took her hands in his.
"Just calm down Mrs. Plummer, take a deep breath." She took a deep breath responding to Blair's use of his guide voice. "Now tell us when did you first notice that Dina was missing."
"This morning." she answered.
The two men looked at each other. Dina had been with them since last evening.
"Could she have been missing since last night?" Jim asked. He was growing increasingly angry.
"Oh, no, she was here when I left for my League meeting, I kissed her good bye. Donny told me she went to bed at about ten o'clock." She thought for a moment. "I didn't check on her because she is a light sleeper and I didn't want to wake her. This morning her dad called and asked to speak to her. He said he had a bad feeling all night and wanted to check on her." She stopped talking, closed her eyes and took another deep breath. Missing the look the two men exchanged. "When I checked she was gone." She started to quietly cry. Blair patted her hand trying to calm her down.
"She's going to be just fine. She just ran away because she was in a bad mood," said a voice from the doorway.
Jim and Blair looked over at the blond man leaning against the door jam.
"And you are?" Jim asked.
The young man didn't bother to move closer, he just waved a hand toward Stephie. "Donny Thompson. I'm her son." They could hear the disdain in the young man's voice. Blair could see the muscles in his partner's jaw clench even tighter.
"Why do you think she ran away?" Jim asked barely holding on to his temper.
"The usual reasons. Not happy with Daddy getting married again. She picked the easy way to get attention. Why else?"
Jim could see and hear the tell-tale signs of lying emanating from the young man. He could also see the signs of drug use. Blair was watching out of the corner of his eye. He gave his Guide a barely perceptible nod.
"Did you hear or see anything last night or this morning?" Jim asked. He was satisfied that Stephie was honestly upset, but her son was lying through his teeth, when they both answered no.
"We will be in touch if we find anything. If you remember anything please call it could be important." Jim said as they prepared to leave. As they walked past the young man they could feel the hostility radiating from him.
When the door closed, Blair turned to Jim. "Whew, I am like *so* glad to be out of there. That guy is total scum. Could you feel it?" he asked bouncing next to his partner.
Jim smiled down at his partner. "Yeah, Chief , I felt it too."
"Great, so now what?"
"We are going to watch that little punk and see where he leads us." When they reached the truck, Jim tilted his head slightly listening. Blair rested his hand on his Sentinel's back to keep him grounded. "We're in luck, he's calling someone... their setting up a meeting...tonight at the warehouse on 63rd...ten o'clock." Jim tensed, Blair tried to soothe his angry partner.
"What is it?"
"He's talking about what he's going to do to Dina when he gets his hands on her." Blair watched as the anger grew.
"Calm down, big guy...try to turn down the anger dial. You can't go in there and beat the crap out of him yet. We need to make a case first." He rubbed the center of the big man's back. "That's what we're here for. We'll keep Dina safe. He won't ever get near her again. Okay?"
Jim took a deep breath, and turned down the anger. His Guide was right. He didn't need to blow it now. "Let's get out of here, Chief, before I go against your better judgment."
* * *
When they reached the station, Jim headed for the equipment room to get the listening devices they would use to explain Jim's hearing.
"I'm going up to check on Dina."
"Okay, Chief, I'll meet you up there in a few minutes."
Blair raced up the stairs. Jim shook his head. Even after all this time, the younger man would choose the stairs over an elevator if he was alone. Jim absently kept tabs on his young partner as he moved up the stairs. He didn't question his ability to find or track his guide anymore. He was just grateful he could, considering what a trouble magnet his partner was. He relaxed when Blair reached major crimes.
As Blair moved through the office he looked for Dina. Stopping Brown he asked. "Hey, Henri, have you seen Dina?" At Brown's puzzled look he explained. "You know, the little girl."
"Oh, her," Brown smiled. "She's in Simon's office."
//I wonder what she got into?// Blair thought, heading for the Captain's office. He ran into Simon outside the door. Simon looked somewhat disgruntled.
"Hey, Simon, what's up? Simon could hear the underlying question in the young man's voice. 'Why was Dina in the office?'
"Daryl is in there showing her how to play the new video game he got for his birthday."
"I didn't know it was your weekend with Daryl?"
"Neither did I." Simon said with a smile. Blair knew any extra time the gruff Captain could get with his son made the big man happy. They watched the two kids through the window.
"They look like they are having a great time." Blair said.
"I know they are, I don't know how they do it." Simon gestured at the computer and game. "I can barely find the on button."
"I know," Blair said sadly. "You old guys are really at a disadvantage." Blair ducked as Simon's hand swung by his head. Jim watched the by-play as he entered Major Crimes.
"Sandburg, have you been picking on our poor put upon Captain again?"
Blair gave his partner an innocent look. "Who me? Pick on someone twice my size. You've got to be kidding." He quickly moved to put his partner between himself and said Captain.
"Come on, Chief, he won't hurt you much. And I will always be able to find your body." He grinned.
"How comforting." He smiled behind his partner's back and tried to sound put upon. Jim reached back and grabbed his partner, hauling him to his side.
"Since the kid is in good hands," Jim looked at Simon who nodded. "We are going to check out some of the other names at the University and see if we can put a face and name to Thompson's cohort."
They popped into Simon's office to let Dina know where they were going. She waved at them absently, barely looking up from the game.
"Hi, guys what's up?"
"Just wanted to let you know we were going to the University. We'll be back later."
"Okay, whatever." Her attention returning to the game.
Jim quietly closed the door and they turned to Simon. "I think we've been replaced." Jim laughed.
"Get out of here you two, and catch the bad guys, I want my office back."
On the drive to the University, Blair kept sneaking looks at his partner. Jim noticed the glances and barely restrained bouncing, recognizing them as signs that his guide had questions for him just waiting for the right moment to be asked. He was able to ignore his young friend for a few more minutes.
"Out with it, Chief."
Blair stilled. "With what?"
Jim just looked at his friend. Blair grinned. "Man, you know me too well."
"You got that right. Now ask your question. Who knows...I might answer it."
"Did you ever want kids like when you were married to Carolyn? Have the need to hear the pitter patter of little feet?"
Of all the questions he could have asked, that was one Jim would have never expected. Jim thought for a moment.
"I did at first, but when things started to get bad, I was glad there wasn't a child in the middle of it. Why do you ask?"
"I was just wondering. You're good with kids."
"I've had plenty of practice the past few years with you." Jim laughed at the glare his Guide leveled at him.
"Ha, ha. You are *so* not funny." Blair muttered, tried to look offended but the laughter in his eyes gave him away.
Once they reached the University, Jim was impressed with the amount of information his partner had gathered on their suspects. He had their class schedules, favorite hang outs and known acquaintances.
"Good work, Chief. When we find them I would like for you to do the questioning, so I can listen to their voices. I think I can recognize the person Thompson was talking to."
"You got it, Big Guy."
They found the first student crashed in his dorm room. Jim had to dial down his sense of smell when the door opened. Even Blair's nose wrinkled at the odor hanging in the air like a toxic cloud. The person who opened the door was tall, and stick thin, with stringy blond hair. Not one of the school's finer specimens.
"What do you want? I'm trying to sleep here."
"You Travis Johnson?" The kid nodded. "Just a few questions." Blair said as Jim flashed his badge. When he saw the badge his heart started racing. Jim knew it was due in part to the pervasive smell of marijuana in the room.
"Do you know Donny Thompson?" They could almost hear the changing of gears in the kid's head.
"I've seen him around, and I kinda know him, but not very well."
Blair continued with the questions for a few more minutes, but at the shake of Jim's head he wrapped it up.
As they walked down the hall Blair could see the frustration on the big man's face.
"Jim, I think young Mr. Johnson needs a visit from Narcotics wonder dog. What do you think?"
Jim relaxed slightly, the tension of the case and the multitude of smells had caused his stress levels to jump. But as usual his Guide knew the right thing to say.
"Sounds good to me. Who's next on the list?"
"Neal Taylor. Personally, I think he is our best bet. I always get bad vibes from this guy."
"Where is he now?"
"He's in his Economics class. They should be getting out in a few minutes.." Blair answered after consulting his list. They waited outside the class. Jim spotted him immediately, and understood what Blair meant about bad vibes.
"Taylor, hold up a minute."
"Well if it isn't the little professor." Taylor looked at Blair with disdain. Jim wanted to bounce the punk against the nearest wall a few times for attitude adjustment. Blair noted the rising rage in his Blessed Protector. He maneuvered himself between Jim and the obnoxious young man.
"We need to ask you a few questions about Donny Thompson.." Blair explained.
The expression on Taylor's face didn't change, but Jim could hear his heart rate go through the roof.
"Man, I don't know any Donny Thompson, and even if I did I wouldn't tell you, 'professor'."
Blair could tell from Jim's reaction that Taylor was the person Thompson had been on the phone with.
"You sure, you don't know anything?"
"How many times do I have to tell you? No, I don't know this guy. Now I'm late." He pushed his way past Blair. Jim moved to intercept, but Blair stopped him.
"Jim, let him go." Blair said quietly watching Taylor walk away. "We know where he's going. We'll get him tonight along with Thompson." Jim nodded jaw still clenched.
* * *
"I'll be glad when we can tell Dina everything is okay and she can go home." Jim told Blair as they sat in the warehouse waiting for Thompson and Taylor to make their appearance.
"Come on admit it you're going to miss the kid."
"Well, maybe, a little..." Jim suddenly focused on a sound from outside. "They're coming. Call Simon and let him know it's time to get backup into position."
Blair called while Jim tracked the pair's movements. He tuned into their conversation.
"I don't know why we had to meet here." Taylor grumbled.
"I just wanted to make sure we weren't followed. We need to find a new location for the product and we need to find and get rid of the kid."
"Man, you are too late. I think the cops already have her."
"What do you mean?"
"They were around looking for information about you this afternoon."
"And you are just now thinking to tell me. What did they look like?"
"A big tall guy and my anthro professor."
"You really are an idiot. This is probably a setup. I can't believe how stupid you are."
Jim listened as he continued to rant.
"Let's get out of here, Donny. If you are right, this place is going to be crawling with cops. Esperanza won't be here if there are cops around."
"Hold it right there...Police!" Jim announced from the shadows. He watched Donny pull a gun. "Put it down, Thompson."
"I don't think so." Thompson fired off two shots in rapid succession. The first passed the two men harmlessly, but the second passed through Jim's arm and lodged in Blair's shoulder. Jim felt the pain and quickly dialed it down. He heard a gasp and smelled his Guide's blood.
He started to turn when he felt Blair's hand on his back and heard him whisper. "I'm okay."
The Sentinel was operating on automatic. His senses focused on the two men. Jim fired once hitting Thompson's arm causing the gun to fall. Taylor was already on the ground, cowering, expecting the next bullet to be for him.
"Thompson, on your face on the ground. If I have to tell you again, you are a dead man." Thompson hit the ground. "If either of you move, I will shoot you."
Their backup burst in. They had been taken by surprise when they heard the shots fired. Simon made sure the two on the ground were being dealt with by the uniformed officers behind him then raced over to his men.
"Jim. are you all right? What happened?"
Jim was distracted from answering when he felt his partner suddenly lean against his back and start sliding to the ground. He quickly turned catching Blair on the way down. Simon was bellowing into his phone for an ambulance. He tied a makeshift bandage around Jim's arm as Jim kept pressure on the younger man's shoulder wound..
"Man, this really sucks." Blair muttered.
"You're going to be okay, Chief," Jim tried to reassure his partner.
"I know, but I really hate getting shot."
"You and me both, Chief, you and me both."
* * *
"Thanks for getting me out of there, Jim. I don't think I could deal with a hospital stay right now."
"Your welcome ,Chief. Just do me a favor. When I tell you to take your medicine, don't argue with me about it, or I swear I'll take you back and let them keep you."
"All right, Big Guy. anything you say."
"Just remember you said that." Jim heard footsteps on the stairs. "Simon is coming to the door, Chief, you want to let him in." Blair opened the door just as Simon was about to knock on the door.
"I really hate when you guys do that." He complained. "Thought you might like to know what happened after you were taken away."
"Come on Captain, don't keep us in suspense. Give us the details."
"Taylor is singing like a bird. He gave up Thompson and Esperanza. Narcotics is jumping for joy. They have been trying to find something connecting Esperanza to the cocaine and heroin traffic in the North west. This is the first concrete information they've gotten. Taylor is turning over names, dates and transfer locations and banks. He had cracked Esperanza's computer system and was skimming money. He planned to use the information for insurance. And Thompson is is just as deep."
"What about Dina? How is she doing?" Blair asked a split second before Jim could.
"She's just fine. Her dad showed up and as soon as we had everyone in custody we let him take her home. She said they were going to try...."
"They're here. Would you do the honors, Simon, and let them in. Simon let them knock before he opened the door. Dina ran to the couch where the two were sitting. She stood still wanting to give them a hug but was afraid she might hurt them. Jim held out his hand and pulled he down to sit between them. She peppered them with questions. Jim absently answered some, letting Blair do most of the talking. Jim was watching the man who had come in with Dina. It had been many years since their last meeting.
Evan walked over to the couch and held out his hand to his former son-in-law. "I want to thank you, Ellison, for every thing you did to help Dina." His voice started to choke up. "If it weren't for you, she might not be here."
"The credit goes to Dina. She was smart enough to get out of there and go for help. She wouldn't have stopped until she found it. You have a very brave daughter."
Evan smiled and looked down at his daughter. "It's time to go, sweetheart."
"Not yet." Dina begged.
"You can always come back and visit." Jim assured her. "But only with permission unless it's an emergency, got it?"
She smiled and nodded in agreement. She gave them both hugs and headed out the door with her dad.
"I've got to get going, too. Daryl is waiting to go out to the movies."
When the door closed behind the big captain, Jim closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
"Next time, Chief, I pick the restaurant. When ever you do something happens. It's just not safe.'
"Oh and, like Wonder Burger is...." they looked at each other and laughed.