A big thank you to Nakira and Sue for beta-reading.
It was a quiet evening in the loft. Jim sat channel-surfing on the couch in front of the TV while Blair had claimed the kitchen table as his territory, covering its surface with papers to be graded, pens, his laptop, and a mug of coffee to sustain him through the grading process.
Blair drained the last contents of the mug and after realizing that he'd finished the pot started to refill the coffee-maker. To his displeasure he discovered that they were out of coffee. "Hey Jim, I need to go to the store, we're out of coffee. Do we need anything else?"
"Why don't you pick up some bread and milk too. I think that's all." Jim had settled on for the evening news and didn't even turn his head as he mentally went through his grocery list.
"Okay I'll get them and be back in a few minutes." Blair grabbed his jacket and headed out of the loft.
The convenience store was empty except for the clerk who flipped through a magazine in obvious boredom. Blair collected the few items he wanted to purchase and made his way over to the counter.
"Hey, pretty quiet tonight," he greeted the clerk.
The clerk laid the magazine aside and began to ring the groceries through. "Yeah, usually it's busier now." He bagged the purchases. "That makes $7.50."
Blair reached for his wallet as the doorbell rang signaling the arrival of another customer. Instinctively he turned to look at the newcomer only to find himself staring at a masked man waving a gun in front of him.
"The man quickly moved towards them, shouting: "Hands up, nobody moves." He came to a stop in front of the counter, shoved a bag at the clerk, and ordered: "Put the money in here, quick!"
The clerk was shaking so badly that he nearly wasn't able to obey the order.
"Move it or I'll blow your head off."
The terrified clerk pressed the 'no sale' button, opening his cash register. He grabbed fistfuls of bills, shoving them into the paper bag. Trembling, he held the money-stuffed bag towards the robber, who snatched it then retreated backwards towards the exit, his gun still aimed at the two men. As he reached the door, he began to turn around to leave the shop. Suddenly he jerked back and started to curse violently. He spotted a police car now parked outside. Two officers got out, intent on getting a snack. The robber gave a wild shot and retreated hastily back into the shop.
"You hit the alarm," he accused the clerk aiming the gun towards him.
"N...no I...I didn't," the shaken man stammered.
"Look there wouldn't have been enough time for the cops to get the call and come here," Blair intervened.
The robber whirled around. "Shut up. Both of you." He took a shaky breath. "I need to think."
Blair sighed inwardly. Only he could go for a quick trip to the store and end up in a hostage situation. They were stuck. The
two officers dived for cover as soon as the shot rang out and surely called for backup by this time.
Officers Williams and Daniels crouched behind their patrol car after a shot was fired from the convenience store. Instead of buying food they found themselves waiting for backup.
Within five minutes of their radio call for backup, two patrol cars and an unmarked civilian vehicle pulled into the store's parking lot.
Both officers instantly recognized the unmarked car, and cast puzzled looks ar each other. "Why is the captain of Major Crimes
here and how did he get here so fast?" Williams voiced the question on both of their minds.
Simon Banks glared at the red light, drumming his fingers on the dashboard. He was trying to decide if a smoke would be beneficial to his mood, or merely a waste of a good cigar after a long, bad day. He just wanted to get home and relax in front of the TV set for what was left of the night. As the light turned green, his police radio sqawked to life, issuing a call for backup; suspected armed robbery in progress. The address was less than a mile from Simon's current location. Silently cursing his bad luck, he pointed his car towards the crime scene and arrived only minutes later along with two other units.
The newly arrived officers started to secure the surroundings and keep onlookers away while Simon assessed the situation.
Using every available cover, he made his way over to the two officers initially on the scene and crouched down beside them. "What's going on?"
"Looks like a holdup that went ugly," Daniels replied. "We were about to enter the shop when someone took a shot at us."
"Any idea what the situation inside is?" Simon asked.
"No we don't know how many hostages are there or how many perps are involved. At least there was only that one shot."
Simon sighed. So much for a relaxing evening.
He noticed that they were only a few blocks from the loft and debated a few moments with himself before he decided to call Jim. The Sentinel's heightened senses could help them gain essential information about the situation in the shop.
He pulled out his cell phone and started to dial.
Jim finally found a western he liked, after the news was over, and sat totally relaxed on the couch. His feet were on the table since Sandburg wasn't there to rib him about violating house rule #8.
The ringing telephone interrupted his TV watching. Jim groaned and rose from his comfortable position to answer it.
"Ellison," he snapped.
"Jim, it's Simon. Sorry to disturb you but we have a situation a few blocks from the loft and I could use your help."
"What kind of situation?"
"Looks like a robbery got out of control and now hostages are involved."
Jim suddenly got a very bad feeling. "Where?"
"Samson's. Do you know the address?"
Jim closed his eyes. Samson's was the shop where he and Blair did most of their shopping. He took a deep breath. "Oh yeah I know the place. Simon, I think Sandburg is involved."
He went out for some groceries half an hour ago. He should've been back by now."
Simon sighed. For the first time since his arrival he carefully surveyed the shop's surroundings and discovered a very familiar car parked on the side street. "I think you're right Jim. Sandburg's car is here."
Jim grabbed his jacket and his keys before Simon had finished. "I'm on my way."
Once Ellison arrived at the scene Banks filled him in immediately. "Nothing has changed so far. We still don't know how many people are inside."
Jim nodded his understanding and extended his hearing. Failing to detect any conversation from inside the shop, he concentrated on the heartbeats; picking up three. If one of them was Blair, there were two others left. One had to belong to the store's clerk, which left one for the robber. He relayed the information to Simon.
"That would leave one criminal," Simon stated the obvious. "We need to make contact."
"Simon, I'm not sure that's a good idea. What if--"
"Look Jim, I know you're worried about Sandburg. He's my friend too. But we need to talk to that man. We need to - negotiate with him, if possible. At least we'll buy some time to come up with another solution."
Jim nodded defeated. "Okay, you're right."
Simon retrieved his cell phone, took a deep breath, and began to dial the number for the shop.
In the store the robber nervously searched for a way out of the situation; becoming more and more agitated. He waved the gun at Blair and the clerk muttering something under his breath that Blair wished he could hear.
Suddenly the phone rang, startling all three of them. The perp was momentarily distracted and lowered the gun slightly.
Blair took the opportunity without hesitation. He reached for the nearest item, which happened to be a frosted donut the clerk obviously had intended to eat, and threw it with all his strength at the robber's head.
The donut landed with an audible SMACK in the man's face, covering it with icing and crumbs. He instinctively dropped the weapon to reach for his eyes.
As soon as the gun hit the floor, Blair lunged for the the perp and decked him with a right hook, sending him crashing to the ground. He kicked the gun away and turned the unconscious man on his stomach, securing the robber's hands behind his back with a role of duct-tape he had grabbed from the counter.
"Answer the phone," Sandburg instructed the clerk, who seemed to be frozen in shock. "Tell them it's all right to come in."
The shaking clerk stared blankly at the phone, then he visibly pulled himself together and answered it.
Jim stalked through the shop's glass door, the first to enter the shop. "Blair? Hey Chief answer me!"
Blair looked up from his position near the crook and shouted: "Over here Jim; we're alright."
Jim quickly strode to his partner's side and knelt down near Blair, checking him out for injuries. "Are you okay? What happened?">
"Yeah, I'm fine. The phone distracted him and I was able to take him out."
Blair looked embarrassedly at the floor. He could just imagine Jim's reaction when he heard that Sandburg had gone against an armed man with only a donut as a weapon. Before he could say anything, the clerk intervened.
"H...he th...threw a ...donut a...at him. Can...you b...believe that? He took him out with a DONUT."
"What?" asked a disbelieving voice behind them. Unnoticed by Jim and Blair Simon had joined them and glanced incredulously at Sandburg.
"He lowered the gun so I threw the donut. It was the only thing close enough!" Blair explained.
Jim and Simon looked at the donut that had rolled a few feet away and was now lying near a stack of cola cans.
Their gazes traveled to the robber who still had icing clinging to his face.
"Why is he unconscious?" Simon asked.
"I knocked him out."
That explanation brought Blair another pair of disbelieving looks.
The silence stretched and Blair was getting uncomfortable. "Guys, come on; say something."
Jim began to shake. A chuckle escaped him and finally he couldn't restrain himself any longer and gave in to the fit of laughter. "Only you Chief," he gasped, "only you..."
Blair looked from Jim to Simon who had joined Jim in uncontrollable laughter.
After a few minutes Simon had calmed down enough to talk again. "Sandburg, we should let you teach a course at the academy. 'Ten ways to take out the bad guys without using a gun'." He motioned for two uniformed officers to take care of the still unconscious crook.
Blair was slowly coming down from his adrenaline high and felt increasingly exhausted. "Very funny Simon. Listen guys, I only want to pay for the groceries and go home. I'm tired. I'll give my statement tomorrow."
"Simon is that okay with you?" Jim asked his captain.
"Sure. See you guys tomorrow. And Sandburg, good work."
"Thanks Simon." Blair was a little surprised at the unexpected praise.
"Come on Chief, let's get you out of here and go home." Jim gathered the grocery bag and gently steered Blair towards the exit. "See you tomorrow Sir," he acknowledged Simon.
"Good night guys." Simon turned back towards the crime scene.
When Blair entered the bullpen the next afternoon, the story about the incident had already made the round.
Joel intercepted him on his way to Jim's desk. He laid a hand on Blair's shoulder and eyed him critically. "Blair, I heard what happened yesterday. Are you okay?"
Blair was touched by the concern in Joel's voice. "Yeah, I'm fine. He didn't hurt anybody."
"Because you stopped him in time," Jim joined the conversation. "From what the clerk told us, he was pretty freaked out. We don't know what could have happened. However, he has a pretty impressive bruise on his jaw. Chief, where did you learn to punch like that?"
"I told you Naomi and I traveled a lot when I was a kid. I met a lot of bullies in the various schools I went to. I learned at an early age how to fend for myself."
"Hey Hairboy I have something for you," Brown called from across the room. He gestured to a huge cardboard box on his desk.
Curious, Blair made his way over to him, followed by Jim and Joel.
Brown lifted the lid with the words: "We thought you could use some ammunition for target practice." An assortment of three dozen filled, glazed, sprinkled and iced donuts lay in the box.
With a slight smirk, Blair looked around at the cops that waited like vultures to dig in and make short work of the pastry. "If I would try to use these as projectiles now, I wouldn't make it out of here alive."
Jim grabbed a bottermelk donut and made a hasty retreat as the other cops closed in. "You got that right Chief."
Blair decided to ignore his health consciousness for once and reached for one of the sweet goodies. As soon as his hand closed around the donut, Brown shouted: "Get down, he is armed!" and the whole staff except for Jim dove for cover behind their desks.
Blair looked around in exasperation as the detectives slowly made a reappearance with huge, silly grins on their faces. He turned to Jim. "I'm never going to live this down, am I?"
"No." Jim smirked, " Besides I've got something else for you." With that he handed Blair a wrapped box he had retrieved from his desk during the commotion. At Blair's sceptical look, he added, "Go ahead. Open it."
Blair took the box and tore through the wrapping. He lifted the lid and retrieved a black t-shirt that had in bold red letters printed on its front: BE CAREFUL! I'M DANGEROUS WITH DONUTS.
Blair shook his head and sighed resignedly as the bullpen filled with laughter.
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