Disclaimer: Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg belong solely to Bilson and DeMeo and PetFly Productions. This was written for pleasure and not for monetary profit. Any comments should be sent to sentlgde@aol.com. Enjoy.

Author=s note: There are references in here to >Secret= and >Blind Man=s Bluff=.

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Exact Change

by MyMom

Blair was just finishing up the supper dishes as Jim was settling down on the couch, lining up the football game for tonight.

Jim listened to the rain outside. ĎThis was a perfect night to be in watching TV,í Jim thought. The laughing and joking between Blair and him was particularly relaxing to the detective. "Címon, Chief, itís just about to start."

Blair looked over at Jim and smiled just as the phone rang.

"Yeah? Ellison here. . .How important is this?. . ."

Blair slowly dried his hands on the dish towel as he listened to Jimís phone conversation.

"Okay. . .yeah. . .meet you where?. . .when?" Jim glanced down at his watch. "Okay, but this better be worth it." Hanging up the receiver, he looked out the window and the cold drizzle and one fond glance at the TV. ĎWhy couldnít snitches call during office hours. Oh well.í "Hey Chief, Iíve got a rendezvous with a snitch. . .you game?" Jim called out as he went to fetch a heavy sweater and his weapon.

ĎSilly question, Jim.í "Sure, Jim." Blair tossed the towel neatly over the rack, rolled down his sleeves and dashed into his room to grab a flannel shirt.

"Kinda nasty outside, Chief. Sure you wanna go?" Jimís voice came wafting into Blairís room.

"Yeah, sure, Jim. Iíd rather be with you than sitting here worrying about you." Blair concentrated on buttoning up his flannel shirt, remembering a time Jim went out and didnít come back until he and Simon found him. He shuddered, then moved on, grabbing a pair of joggers as he headed out of his room into the living room. He stopped dead as another thought struck him--a memory--and he looked accusingly at Jim.

"What??" Jim asked innocently as the expressions on the young manís face changed from a quizzical look to one of pensive thoughtfulness.

"You wouldnít do that again, would you?" Suspicion was written all over Blairís expressive face.

"Wouldnít do what?? What??" Jimís face and voice was filled with innocence.

Blair looked down at the shoes in his hand, then back at Jim, mulling over the word Ďsnitchí and past experience with one particular snitch named Sneaks, who literally walked off in a pair of Blairís most expensive joggers as his Ďrewardí, came to mind. "Who did you say you were meeting?" Blair queried, eyebrows up to his hairline, lips pressed together.

"I didnít say," Jim replied, tying up his hiking boots. "Why?"

"Oh, no reason. . . ." Blair threw over his shoulder as he darted back into his room and picked up his old pair of hiking boots instead. ĎWouldnít hurt to be on the cautious side.í

ACímon, Chief. Weíve got to be down front in fifteen minutes!" Jim shouted, grabbing their coats as Blair just finished getting his boots laced. Jim shook his head as he looked at Blairís triumphant face down to his shoes, then back to his face again. He laughed as he tossed Blair his coat.

Catching his coat, Blair spread out his arms. "Well. . .?!" He said, favoring Jim with a quick smile as he headed out through the door.

Jim gave him an affectionate push then closed and locked the door.

When they got down to the street, Jim took off across the street with Blair right at his side.

"Uh, Jim, where are we going? I thought we were going to meet him out front." Blair looked back across the street where they had started.

"No," Jim corrected as they reached the other side. "I said we had to be out front in fifteen minutes."

Blair looked puzzled as he looked up at the detective. Then realization set in as he looked past the older manís shoulder to the sign designation---BUS STOP.

"Oh no. . .youíve *got* to be kidding here, Jim. Weíre going to take the *bus* to meet him?? Why not a vehicle or train or plane. . .?? Blair sounded a little panicky.

"Weíre not taking the bus to meet him. Weíre going to meet him on the bus," Jim patiently answered the young man, not quite comprehending Blairís problem.

"But Jim, itís a bus. A *bus*, Jim! I havenít been very lucky with buses." Blairís eyes got wider and his hands got wilder. ARemember the bus and the mad bomber who put a *gun* in my face and blew up the back of the bus?? Then there were the two renegade covert ops guys who chased me on the bus and I had to be kinda rude to the bus driver and the police and got arrested and. . ."

Jim was amazed. He knew, in there somewhere, Blair must have taken a breat, but he couldnít figure out where. "Chief, calm down. . .itís all right. Iím sure this will be different. And Iím here. . .and. . .so is the bus. Címon, Chief."

Blair turned, looked at the bus doors opening, then taking a breath followed Jim into the bus. He heard Jim onto the bus drop the fare for both of them, exact change. As Jim moved to go to the seats, Blair lifted his head up to smile at the bus driver. The grin froze on his face when he recognized the smile at the same bus driver from the night he had to make a scene to get arrested.

The bus driver remembered Blair, too. ĎThe brain on drugs.í "I hope youíre not going to cause trouble tonight."

"Oh no, sir," Blair said with the most polite nod to the bus driver, then hastened to set down beside Jim. ĎI hope this isnít an omen.í Blair sighed as he watched the driver move his receiver a little closer on the dash.

Jim smiled down at Blair and gave him a quick gentle tug on his curls, then settled back to wait for his snitch.

Blair decided to divert his mind off the bus by doing what an anthropologist did best (especially him) -- observing others. The others in this case were a pair of what appeared to be workmen, probably on their way home; a heavy set woman with her eyes closed, sitting next to a small bag of groceries; a possible wino, and toward the front, two teenage boys in heavy coats giggling and occasionally looking over their shoulders.

Before Blair could settle down into his imaginative observation, he felt Jim straighten as the bus slowed, then stopped. The passengers, with the exception of the teen boys, departed. ĎWell, there go my diversions,í thought the anthropologist.

Blair recognized the first of the two passengers as Jimís snitch, "Sneaks", and he thankfully wiggled his toes in his boots and glanced slyly at Jim, catching a quick flash of a smile. ĎWell, so far so good. Now weíre nearly finished and weíll get off the bus. Maybe the jinx is over.í Blair crossed his fingers.

The second passenger was a young, pregnant woman. Very pregnant.

Blair noticed she was upset and wondered if she was on the way to the hospital as Sneaks occupied the seat in front of Jim. The young grad student got up to help the pregnant woman to a seat opposite and down from his partner before returning to his seat beside the detective.

The bus closed its doors and started to slowly pull out when someone ran up pounding on the doors. "Please!!" a voice yelled. "Stop!"

When the driver stopped and opened the doors, a young man tossed the coins in the machine, looking for someone while catching his breath. His eyes lit upon the pregnant woman.

"Patty, whatíre you doiní?? Didnít you hear me calliní you?"

"No, Tony, just stay away from me," Patricia cried, tears streaming down her face.

"Iím sorry, Patty, Iíve been an idiot. But we donít need to talk here. Címon, letís get off the bus. . ." reaching for her hand, which the young woman yanked back.

Jim had risen to calm down an obvious domestic problem when one of the teenage boys jumped up and waved a gun at the young man.

"Itís all right, lady, Iíll protect you. I know how to use this, too."

The other boy looked panicked. "No, I just brought Dadís gun to show you. Don, please put it down. Oh God, Dadís gonna kill me."

Jim seized on the boyís name. "Thatís a good idea, Don. Put the gun down." Jim kept his voice calm. Kids with guns scared the hell out of him. "Don, Iím a police officer and I think we can get everything under control. You donít want to hurt anyone."

Patty looked at the boy with the gun. "Please donít shoot him. I love him. . .itís just that. .I. . . I. . .AIIEEEE!!!" Her loud, abrupt scream startled everyone and set a strange chain of events in motion.

The bus drive turned to see what had happened and the bus hit a wet area, hydroplaning into several parked cars. The swerving motion threw the passengers around. Sneaks hung on to his seat. Tony fell into an unoccupied seat. Donís hand hit the seat, discharging the handgun. Blair felt himself slammed into the side seat as a sharp pain registered in his leg, then he fell into the aisle. Jim lunged and grabbed the handgun away from the boy, pushing him back down into the seat as Patty slid out of her seat, nearly landing on Blairís lap on the floor.

"Whoa. . .ow!" Blair grabbed Pattyís shoulders to keep her from hitting anything.

Another scream erupted from Patty. As Jim got down to check her out, Tony reached around and she grasped tightly onto his outstretched hand. "Oooh. . .I think itís time. . ." Patty looked at Jim, eyes wide.

The bus driver peered over Jimís shoulder. "I called the police and ambulance. They should be here soon."

"Patty," Jim kept his voice low and calm. "Itís okay. Just take short breaths. Ease back against Blair and relax as much as possible." He glanced past her to his partnerís face. It looked paled and those expressive eyes reflected pain before Blair quickly looked down. "You okay, Chief?"

Another scream interrupted.

Without looking up, Blair replied. "Uh, yeah, sure. . .is she in labor, Jim?"

"Yeah, now if I can just keep her calm, breathing. . .It could be close. Which comes first, the ambulance or the baby." Jim looked at Blair, who gave him a tight, little smile.

"Uh, Jim?" Sneaks tapped the detective on the shoulder. "This area is gonna get a little more attention than I like to be in, if you get my drift." When Jim nodded, Sneaks said, "Iíll get back to you later." ĎMaybe the shoe selection will be better.í

Jim could hear the ambulance sirens and breathed a little sigh of relief.

The bus driver yelled from the front of the bus. "Theyíre here. Police have the boys and two ambulances are here. With a bus involved, they like to send more than one."

"Great! Send the medics in here." Jim ordered.

The detective moved over as soon as he heard the EMTs enter the bus. "Okay, Miss, weíre just gonna help you get in that nice, clean ambulance out there. Just breathe and keep calm. . .Here we go," and they helped her out.

Jim watched them leave and noticed the police put the two boys in the unit vehicle, with the bus driver filling in the events.

Jim turned back to his partner, who was still sitting on the floor, looking even paler. He knelt down next to him. "Chief, whatís the. . ." Then he saw the blood staining his jeans and pooling on the floor. "Why didnít you say something, Sandburg?"

A tiny smile appeared at the corners of Blairís mouth. "Well, you were kinda busy at the time and I mustíve cut my leg on something." He hissed as pain shot through his leg. "It hurts," he said through clenched teeth.

The Sentinel examined his friendís leg. "Shit!" he muttered before shouting, AI need another medic!"

Blair was beginning to feel extremely light-headed, but picked up on the expletive. "íShití doesnít sound good, Jim."

"Well, I know where the bullet went," Jim observed while applying pressure to the wound.

The young Guide hissed in pain. "Oh, man. . .not the leg again. . ." He watched as a fuzzy medic knelt down by a fuzzy Jim, who reached out with fuzzy arms for him as he closed his eyes and gave into the welcoming oblivion of unconsciousness.

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When Blair came to, the first thing that came into focus was the concerned face of his Sentinel.

"Hi, Chief." Relief flooded through Jim as he patted his friendís arm.

"Hospital again?" The young man looked at his partner.

"Yeah, youíve gotta start finding a better way to meet nurses. The guys at the office are getting suspicious." Jim smiled as he gently teased his young Guide.

Blair gave a little laugh, then drifted back to sleep with Jim at his bedside.

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Dressed in sweats, Blair looked up as Jim entered his hospital room.

"Here we go, Chief. Youíre release, wheelchair and crutches. You know the routine, letís get you in your chariot." The detective helped his partner get situated. "Oh, and by the way, Chief, hereís a surprise from the City Transportation because of the accident and the help we gave."

Blair looked up at the Sentinel, smiling. "What? What is it?"

Jim handed the young man an envelope with that ĎButter wouldnít melt in his mouthí look.

Blair took the envelope and, with one raised eyebrow, gave the older man a questionable look. ĎWhat are you up to?í He opened the envelope and removed the contents.

"Aaah, Jim. . .free Bus Passes! No, Jim. . .no. . .no. . ."

Jim pushed the wheelchair through the hall to the exit, his laughter echoing in the halls.

 

The End.

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