Being careful what you wish for
The truck made a full handbrake swerve on the dockside. Jim was out of the driver's door almost before it had had a chance to rock back on its axles.
“They're getting away! Call for backup!”
Then he was off, haring along the dock. He could vaguely hear Sandberg whooping something in the background, and hoped to God the kid had enough sense to stay in the truck this time. Dixon and his gang were at the end of their long rope right now, and likely to be increasingly desperate as they tried to get away. But that was something Jim couldn't allow. Crammed into the back of the sedan was Tricia Hollins, a completely innocent bystander caught up in this deadly confrontation. He could *not* let Dixon take her.
The sedan itself had screeched to a halt at the end of the deserted dock where only a few smaller vessels were moored. Dixon and his men were clearly heading for what looked like a Hollywood approximation of an old tramp steamer. He wondered vaguely why the bad guys always seem to pick such conspicuous hideouts, and indeed why the dock authority hadn't had their curiosity piqued earlier. Academic at this point, as the vessel's motor was already running, and Dixon and his men were swarming over the gunwale. Dixon has his arm tightly round Tricia Hollins’ waist as they jumped onto the deck of the boat. Crewmen were already at the ropes to cast off, so there was really only one option for Jim. He launched himself from the dockside, grabbing hold of a convenient rope on his way, and swung, Errol Flynn-like, right into the midst of the group on the deck.
He had his gun out the moment he straightened up, and lining it up on Dixon was enough for the moment to freeze the rest of the men in their actions, as they waited for Dixon to make the first move.
“Let her go, Dixon!”
Dixons’ arm relaxed, and Tricia wriggled out of his grasp. She looked from one man to the other.
“It's okay now, Tricia,” said Jim, his eyes never leaving Dixon’s. Come over here to me...”
He raised his voice as he addressed the rest of the men on deck.
“Okay, guys, I don’t want any of you moving a muscle until my friends get here, otherwise…”
In the periphery of his vision he saw Tricia Hollins move, but frankly what happened next was entirely unexpected. With a strength that her slender frame belied (even though Jim had had some experience of that strength already in a different context, and so should have perhaps known better) she brought a convenient metal pole up from the deck and smashed it hard into Jim's face. It was as if the night sky exploded: his eyes were full of stars and suddenly he was on his ass on the deck, gun missing, and blood streaming from his nose and mouth.
Tricia moved back to her man.
“Real sorry, Jim. Guess you shouldn’t go just by appearances.”
Dixon’s arm was back around Tricia’s waist, and in his other hand he held Jim's gun.
“Too bad, Ellison…”
Once again the night was ripped apart, this time by the god-awful roar of a semi-automatic weapon, and both Jim and Dixon’s men flinched back as the wooden deck exploded in a mass of splinters. The bullets carved an intricate tracery round Dixon, Hollins and the men bearing down on Ellison, and had them cowering back looking for cover.
“Just stay right there! Freeze! Cascade PD! Don't move a muscle!”
The commands were punctuated by another rattle of the semi-automatic. Jim, his hands full of blood, looked up towards the dock, and saw with a mixture of exasperation and pride that Sandburg stood above them, brandishing the semi, which he must have found in the back of the abandoned Sedan.
“Jim! Jim! Chrissakes, are you okay, man? Jim!”
Sandburg dragged a radio from his back pocket.
“Just where is my fucking backup? I said backup at the docks! Officer down! Get your butts over here NOW!”
He lined the semi up against the crowd of men once again.
“Don't you move! Jim! For Chrissakes, say something!”
Ellison spat out some blood.
“I've lotht my tooth.”
He could always count on his colleagues at Major Crimes for appropriate sympathy at times when he felt like crap. So his reward for dragging himself into the bullpen the next day was some highly fake commiseration to his face and, behind his back, some quietly whistled versions of “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”. When Megan herself joined in, Jim whirled on them all.
“For your informathion, it'th juth the one tooth!”
He stormed in to Simon's office without knocking, and slammed the door to block out the wave of laughter that followed him.
“For God's sake, Jim! Should you really be here? You look terrible!”
“Gee, thankth for the thupport, captain. I thought you'd want me in the Department to deal with the paperwork. I've been to the doctor and the dentith and they've thigned me off till later.”
Simon gazed at him in something like queasy wonder.
“Well, if you're sure, but doesn’t it hurt? It sure looks like it hurts.”
“You're darn right it hurths, but, you know, jutht doing my job...”
The door burst open, and Blair entered, his arms full of photocopying. Simon raised his eyes heavenward.
Yeah, sure, come right in, he thought resignedly. It's not like I have an office with a door or anything.
“What the hell are you doing here, Jim? You should be home resting! What's the point of wandering around like a goddamn pumpkin? You can't even talk properly! Go home and take the painkillers!”
“Jethuth, chief, will you lay off? I’m bored at home!”
“No, I will not lay off!”
Blair dumped his photocopying down on Simon's desk.
“Look at the state you got yourself into!”
“You back being my mother again, Than’burg?”
Blair turned to Simon, gesticulating at his partner.
“Look at him, Simon. First he believes he can fly like Peter Pan, taking them all on single-handedly, then Captain Hook's girlfriend slugs him in the face with a hunk of metal. And he's damned lucky it was only his tooth...”
“Well, gee, thankth, Than’burg.”
“No, be serious, Jim! You went barrelling in there, you didn't wait for me or for backup! You’re damn lucky she didn't pull a gun on you. Because she would have used it. That's obvious!”
Simon thought Jim looked slightly abashed, though it was quite difficult to tell, given the general state of his face.
“Yeah, well, the fact thee was involved with Dikthon is thomething that hadn't cropped up till then.”
Blair slumped into a chair, running a hand through his hair.
“Not like I didn’t offer a few words of caution back there a ways, man. But I gotta say it again, for posterity. You can pick ‘em, Jim. You really can.”
“Anyway,” retaliated Ellison, reviving slightly against this tirade, “what about you making like a one-man army latht night?”
Blair was still looking daggers.
“Just as well I did,” he muttered.
Jim's mind slipped back to seeing his friend, semi-automatic raised, holding the full forces of the bad guys at bay until his bloodied partner could drag himself from the boat, and the PD backup finally came screeching down the docks.
“Well, I'm glad you did, Chief.”
Blair glanced up, and gave him a rueful look. But Jim captured his gaze and held it until they were both kind of smiling. Or at least, Jim's face was stretching minutely to an approximation of the same.
Simon huffed loudly.
“For Pete’s sake, Jim, just go home, and let the swelling die down. You're frightening the detectives.”
Jim got up to leave. He looked down at Sandburg who was smirking.
“And now what'th tho funny, Chief?”
“You been measured for your first set of false teeth yet, Jim?”
“Than’burg, that joke wath old latht night!”
Simon snorted in amusement.
“Old-age is creeping up, Jim.”
“Har har, very funny, you guyth. And pleath note, it'th JUTH ONE TOOTH!”
“Hey,” said Simon suddenly “what are you going to ask the tooth fairy, Jim?”
Blair joined in, grinning evilly.
“Just don't wish for Tricia Hollins any more, Jim!”
Jim gave him a pitying look.
“Been there, done that.”
Jim heard Simon's quick intake of breath, and realised he had slightly overstepped the mark. Blair’s leer got dirtier.
“Wow, man, lewd or what?”
“I hope that wasn't what I think it was,” said Simon swiftly, business-like and with all humour suddenly gone. “Now, get the hell out of here, Ellison, and don't come back here until there’s a chance you won’t be picked out in a line-up.”
They stood by Jim’s desk, Blair fiddling with the photocopying again. The combination of Jim's bruised and swollen visage and his gimlet glare directed at anyone who approached was enough to prevent general chitchat from their colleagues.
“So,” said Blair “if you don't need to wish for Trithia Hollinth anymore…”
“Thmirk away, Than’burg…”
“… what you gonna wish for?”
Jim reached out and ruffled his friend’s hair.
“Oh, I've given up on hoping the tooth fairy will get me what I want, Than'burg,” he said softly.
Blair looked at him quizzically for a split second, but Jim held his gaze. Then Blair’s look changed to one of mock horror, eyes wide.
“Ellison!” he gasped, “You *never* gotta give up hope! Because if you do, the tooth fairy...”
Ellison slapped him upside the head, and they both burst out laughing.
“Get out of here, man,” said Blair, shooing him away, “and take your enormous pumpkin head with you!”
He was in bed. A quiet evening with a little food and drink and not much talk, and his face was hurting less. Now he drifted on the edge of sleep and his mind ran back over that conversation.
“Yeah,” he told himself. “You can wish all you like, Ellison. The tooth fairy stopped listening to you long ago.”
The door creaked open, and Jim jerked awake, his body rigid. But the shape in the doorway was familiar, if unexpected.
Blair moved silently towards the bed. His hair was loose, brushing his shoulders. The moonlight streaming in through the windows picked up every curve of muscle and elegant bone. He sat gently on the edge of the bed, and then drew up his legs and slipped beneath the covers next to Jim. The other, for his part, was still looking at him with disbelief.
Blair leant over and kissed him softly on the cheek, somewhere above the injured mouth. Jim let out a breath he felt like he had been holding for years, and suddenly he was completely relaxed in Sandburg’s arms. Only one thing remained rigid…
“So, did she get it right, Jim? The tooth fairy?”
“Right on the money, Chief,” said Jim as he pulled the other man closer to him. “Right on the money.”