Quid Pro Quo
Epilogue for "Switchman."
DISCLAIMER: The characters of The Sentinel are the property of Petfly and Paramount. This fanfic was written for my own and othersí enjoyment. No money has been paid and no copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHORíS NOTES: Well, I was going merrily on my way writing missing scenes and epilogues for all the TS eps and suddenly realized Iíd never done one for "Switchman." I also needed to bust a writerís block on another story, and something to pass the time on the bus, so here it is, finally.
Feedback welcome on or off-list.
"Quid pro quo."
Jim drifted back to the crime scene once heíd made sure that Sandburg was okay. Squatting down on his haunches, he picked up a shard of shrapnel; small pieces of the bomb scattered by the explosion. It was still warm to his sensitive touch; its edges jagged and sharp. Jim lifted it to his nose and, closing his eyes in careful concentration, opened up his sense of smell.
A hand on his shoulder startled him into wakefulness and he grimaced as the pungent odor of explosive mixed with a heady perfume assaulted his wide-open olfactory sense. Carolyn stood beside him, a puzzled expression on her face and her wristwatch dangling from one finger.
"Jim? You okay?"
Jim stood and stretched, rubbing at his tender shoulder, bruised when heíd thrown himself to the floor of the bus as the bomb had exploded. "Yeah, fine." His gaze traveled to the watch and he smiled. "You should get the catch fixed."
Carolyn nodded slowly. "How did youÖNever mind." She slipped the watch into her pocket. "So, my place at seven?" Jim nodded. "Do you need a ride?" she asked.
"Just back to my truck. Thanks."
Jim slapped the roof of the car and raised a hand in farewell as Carolyn drove off. Heíd given his ex-wife a kiss before heíd gotten out and experimentally opened up his sense of taste as he did so. He smiled at the memory of mocha and mint and Carolyn. Maybe the kid was right. This sentinel thing definitely had its advantages.
He wondered idly now where Sandburg had gotten to after the paramedics had finished with him. The last time Jim had seen him, heíd been sitting in the back of the ambulance arguing with Joel Taggert over his videotape. Jim hoped someone had thought to offer the kid a ride home, then seeing the familiar figure ahead of him trudging along the sidewalk, he realized guiltily that it should have been him.
ĎWay to go, Ellison,í Jim thought as he slowed his truck. ĎDestroy the partnership before itís begun. Thatís what ruined it with Carolyn. Always putting your own needs first.í
Then he shook himself. This wasnít a marriage. Sandburg was getting what he wanted out of the deal, Jim reminded himself. Research. Jim shuddered a little at the thought. Damned if the kid didnít know what he was talking about though. He stopped the truck just ahead of the walking man and waited for him to catch up. "Need a ride?"
Sandburg looked sideways and grinned. "Thanks." Opening the passenger door, he slung in his backpack and climbed in after it.
Jim indicated the leather bag. "You sleep with that thing?"
"Only when I canít get a date," Blair quipped, blue eyes sparkling with mirth.
Jim laughed. The kid was quick. The detective steered the truck back onto the road. "Where can I drop you off?"
Blair looked up from the notebook heíd dug out of his backpack and cursed as his pen dropped from his bandaged hand. He bent under the dash, scrabbling to retrieve it and emerged victorious. He pushed his rampant curls back from his face as he spoke. "Back at the university, if you're heading that way. If not, a bus stop will do. Iíve got to start collating this data."
"Donít you sleep?"
"Sure I do," Blair answered, closing his book and shifting so that he faced Jim, one leg scooted up beneath him. "Itís just not high on my list of priorities right now."
Jim nodded and honked his horn at the driver in front whoíd cut him off. "I can drop you at Rainier. Thanks for today."
"Helping me find the bomb. How did you figure that anyway? That "Donít look, listen" thing?"
Blair shrugged. "I donít know, really. It just came out. This is all new to me, too."
Jim smiled. "The blind leading the blind, huh?"
Blair grinned back, obviously not offended by the metaphor. "Something like that."
"Howís your hand?"
Blair looked at the bandaged appendage and shook it experimentally, wincing a little. "Paramedic said it looked okay, but that I should get it X-rayed to be sure." He paled. "I canít believe I slugged her, man. My mother would kill me if she knew." He looked suddenly stricken. "Promise me if you ever speak to my mother that you wonít tell her."
Jim shot him a quick look to see if the kid was joking, but Blair looked genuinely concerned. "You got it, Chief." The detective pulled into a parking space outside the university, then turned and looked at his companion. He took Blairís injured hand in his. "Let me see that." He closed his eyes for a moment, then extended his sense of touch. Gently, he stroked his fingertips along the ridges of knuckles and bones on the back of Blairís hand, feeling the swelling of fluid and the heat of bruising in the tissues. "Bruised, but nothingís broken," he said finally. He let go of the hand and started the truck. "Get some ice on it, Chief."
"Wow," Blair breathed. "Thatís amazing after such a short period of time. You have incredible control." He bent and picked up his backpack and spent a moment tightening the buckles. "I donít think youíre going to need my help. Thanks, Jim. Iíll see you sometime, I guess."
"Tomorrow," Jim replied tersely. "Iíll pick you up at eight. Might as well get the forms filled in for your ride-along status."
Blair beamed. "Sure. Eight oíclock. Iíll be waiting."
"Make sure you ice that hand," Jim said as he pulled out. "You canít type reports with a bum hand."
Blair looked puzzled. "Reports?"
"Paperwork, Sandburg, paperwork," Jim answered. "If youíre going to hang out with cops, you might as well learn how to do the paperwork. Give and take, Chief, give and take."
-11th October, 2001.