Jim looked glumly at his truck, which was currently sporting quite a bit of body damage and billowing white smoke, or, more accurately, steam. He was hoping that it was just the radiator, otherwise this was going to be a very expensive car chase.
"Are you okay, Detective Ellison?" a fresh-faced uniform asked. "You're holding your body kind of funny."
Jim gave him an uncomprehending look.
"Your shoulder," the officer pointed. And, just like that, the pain became excruciating. Jim slammed on the pain dial to bring it to a tolerable level while he did a self-assessment. No bleeding that he could see, although there were quite a few bruises starting to show themselves. "Yeah, I guess I'd better get checked out, Officer…" He looked at the nameplate. "Martinez. Have the perps been arrested?"
"Yes, sir. They have some minor injuries, so they're being taken to Cascade General to be checked out before they're booked." He was still staring at Jim's shoulder. "Do you want me to call an ambulance?"
"I'll make my own arrangements, thanks. Could you set up a tow for my truck?"
"It's already on its way." He looked past Jim. "Here it comes. Do you have someplace you want it towed to, or is the Yard okay for now?"
"The Yard is fine. Thanks."
"Sure thing, Detective. I'll just go see about that." He hesitated before adding, "I gotta say, that was one hell of a PIT maneuver you did on them." With that, he left.
Jim noticed another blue-and-white driven by an officer he knew. He flagged it down. "Hey, Carl, how's it going?"
Carl Benson chuckled. "Better than you, I expect. This little incident is already making the rounds."
Jim groaned. "Not the kind of publicity I want."
Carl laughed out loud at that. "I expect not, but it was a slow day." He surveyed the scene. " It looks like McCade and Martinez have things under control. Do you need anything before we take off?"
"Yeah, maybe. Can you hang out while I make a phone call?"
Jim dialed a number he knew by heart. "Matt? I hate to bother you, but I have a slight medical problem…. Yeah, I was in an accident and I think I've dislocated my shoulder. The thing is, you know how ER is going to be. If I have to wait hours to get seen, they're going to want to do surgery…." Jim sighed. "Thanks. I'll be there in 15. You're the best."
Jim climbed gingerly into the back of the cruiser, after refusing help from Suzanne Jones, Carl's partner. "Are we dropping you off at the ER?" she asked.
"No, they'll take too long. If you could get me to Matt Stevens' office on 63rd, he'll be able to see me right away."
Five painful minutes after arriving at Matt's clinic, Jim's shoulder was re-set and he sighed in relief.
"Okay," Matt said as he filled in Jim's chart. "Ginny is going to help you undress. I want to give you a once over to make sure there's nothing else to address."
"Who's the doctor here? And don't give me that crap about getting medic training in the army. You came to me begging to fix your shoulder; now it's time to pay the piper. Strip." Matt left the room to attend another patient.
An hour later, Jim was fully clothed and wearing a sling. He had ice packs on his shoulder and the bruise caused by the seat belt; his other scrapes had been dressed. He was sitting quietly, waiting to be given the okay to leave. Ginny came in every fifteen minutes to check for any complications. Jim's internal clock told him it was time for another check, just as the door opened. He was about to tell her that he felt fine when he heard a familiar voice.
"Jim, what the hell? Why didn't you call me?" Jim could hear the underlying fear in Blair's voice.
"I--how did you know I was here?"
"How do you think? After the story of your latest escapade made the rounds, I went down to Cascade General ER. Manny Martinez was waiting for the perps to get checked out. When I didn't see you there, he told me you'd flagged Carl down. Suzanne told me they dropped you off at Matt's." He looked at Jim, who was staring at him. "What? I'm a detective, after all, although it didn't take much skill to find you."
Jim heaved a big sigh. "I'm sorry, Blair. I just wanted to get this shoulder put back in place and I knew I'd be waiting hours at the ER. I didn't want them to operate on me when Matt could pop it right back in. I meant to call you, but Ginny was fussing, and I guess I just let the time slip away." He turned blue eyes toward Blair, pleading for forgiveness.
Blair rolled his eyes. "I forgive you, but not because of that pathetic face. Ginny says you're free to go, now that you've got a responsible adult to watch over you."
Jim smiled. "I'm hoping you'll do more than watch, Chief."
"Yeah, yeah. Let's go home. You're going to need to lie down, once you find out the damages to Sweetheart."
"Don't tell me she's totaled," Jim asked in alarm.
"No, she's a tough old bird. But you're going to be riding in the Volvo for a couple of weeks at least. Stan at the garage says they're having trouble finding the parts for such an ancient vehicle," Blair said with a smirk.
Jim was sitting on the couch. When they got home, Blair helped him change and shower, then get into sweatpants and a pajama top, since he couldn't lift his arm high enough for a sweatshirt. Blair fixed them comfort food: grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Blair finished washing the dishes, then brought them both some fresh coffee. He sat down gently next to Jim, trying not to jostle him.
Blair sighed. "Jim, we've got to talk."
"Come on, babe, we've been trying to locate Morton Simmons for six months. When I saw him driving down State Street, bold as brass, I had to stop him."
"Of course you did. I don't question your motive, just your method. A PIT maneuver? With only the truck's frame to protect you? Cops don't always do that even with a reinforced cruiser. It's dangerous and foolhardy." When Jim started to protest, Blair held up his hand. "Can you honestly tell me that was the only way to handle the situation?" Blair looked hard at Jim, daring him to lie.
Jim turned his gaze away. "No, I guess I could have called for backup--"
"You did call for backup. You just didn't wait for them to coordinate a plan with Cop of the Year Ellison." Jim winced at the description. "One of them could have done the PIT, if it was deemed necessary. Or they might have continued to tail the car and gotten a copter involved so they wouldn't lose him. You were off-duty. You were going to the hardware store to shop for a drill, for god's sake. There was no reason for you to do anything other than hand it off to the guys who do pursuits day in and day out. As a result, you were the only one who got seriously hurt. Simmons and his henchmen got a few bumps and bruises; you got a dislocated shoulder and you'll be on desk duty for a week at least. Simon's orders," Blair confirmed, as Jim dropped his head back on the couch and stared at the ceiling. "And he bellowed a few other choice words, by the way."
"Jim, I want you to make a New Year's resolution. No more cowboy heroics. You're to think of a Plan B that involves using resources other than sacrificing your body on the altar of justice. You're smart enough and you've been partnered with me long enough that you can do this."
"It's not New Year's," Jim said, hoping the weak joke would diffuse the situation.
"It's Chinese New Year," Blair shot back. "New Moon, new methods." He took Jim's hand. "Please. I know our job is dangerous, but I don't want to lose you. I want us to be partners for a long time." Jim looked into Blair's pleading eyes and melted.
"Okay. No more unnecessary heroics. Promise, babe."
Blair closed his eyes and swallowed. He opened them and smiled. "Thank you." He touched Jim tenderly. "So, how's the shoulder?"
"Could be worse. Could be better. The ice pack is helping a little."
Blair smiled. "Well, I've heard there's an age-old, life-affirming ritual that might be useful. Something about endorphins helping with the pain," he said, as he waggled his eyebrows.
Jim grinned. "I think we should try that."
"As long as you just lay back and let me do the driving."
Jim winced at the veiled reference to his accident. "Ouch."
Blair laughed and helped Jim up off the couch. As they climbed the stairs, he said, "You know, Carolyn once told me that during the Kincaid siege you said you felt responsible for every criminal on the loose in Cascade."
"I can't believe you're mentioning my ex-wife when we're getting ready to have therapeutic sex."
"Ouch," Blair echoed. "Forget I said anything."
"Forgotten. Or it will be once we get to that ritual, that is."
Blair laughed again as they climbed the stairs. "Let the healing begin."