Race Against Time
After Ricky returned from the supply store with the goodies, they decided to split up the money. Butch and Smithie counted out the cash into four even piles, and handed it over. Ricky scowled when Jason was given his share.
"You got a problem, Punter?" Butch snarled. "We all took the same risk, so it's an even four-way spilt."
Jason smirked at Ricky who glared back at him but said nothing. Snatching up the Playboy magazine, he slumped down on one of the ratty-looking lounge chairs and sulked, while Jason settled on the other chair and continued to read his western novel.
Butch and Smithie grinned at each other, lit up smokes and dealt out the cards for another hand. Ten minutes later Ricky joined them.
An hour afterwards, Jason put the book down and stood up, stretching his arms out in front of him. The smoke from the cigarettes was beginning to get to him, so he decided to go for a walk to stretch his legs.
Jason glanced at his money which was in a plastic bag and then at Ricky who had his back to him. I don't trust him any further than I could throw him. He picked up the bag and stuffed it into an old backpack he had found, then put some of the novels on top and tucked the backpack away in the cupboard where he'd found the paperbacks. He trusted his uncle and Butch too, but not Ricky.
Grabbing a couple of candy bars, he shoved them in his pockets and told the others that he'd be back in an hour or so. He thought about leaving by the front door but decided to go out the back and head towards the lake he could see through the trees. Relieving himself on some bushes first, he then headed off on a trail that meandered between the different varieties of conifer, pine and oak trees which were abundant in the area.
Sergeant Terry Sullivan from the diminutive Fort Tejon CHP Station picked up his phone and dialled the Ranger's station for the second time that day. His good friend Ranger Maree Powell was on the other end almost immediately.
"Ranger's Station, Maree Powell speaking."
"Has anything changed out there in the last hour, Maree?" Terry asked anxiously, thankful that she'd obeyed his request and stayed at the station.
"No," she replied. "Liam's been checking in every 15 minutes with updates, they're still sitting around the table playing cards and smoking like chimneys."
"Liam's been discreet?"
Maree laughed that soft laugh of hers which drove him wild. "Of course! You know as well as I do that Liam could sneak up on a pack of wolves and they'd never know he was there. He's got the perfect spot with a view through the window straight at their table, and with those new high powered binoculars we got last month he can even make out the cards they're playing with," she laughed.
"There's still only the three of them?"
"Yeah, that's all he's seen, should there be more?"
"LAPD have confirmed that there were three suspects in the bank at the time of the robbery, but they're not sure if there was a driver. Poncherello and Baker, the two officers whom they assaulted haven't been questioned yet."
Maree was silent for a moment. "We're talking about serious criminals here, aren't we?"
Terry didn't hesitate. "Yeah we are, and that's why I want you to stay out of the way. From the reports I've had they were brutal with our two officers. Baker's still unconscious and they're concerned about his head injuries."
She sighed. "That's awful. I'll stay out of the way, I promise. When's this going down?"
"As soon as reinforcements arrive from Bakersfield, so hopefully within the hour. They're not likely to up and leave, are they?" He asked anxiously.
"Relax, from what Liam's been telling me it looks like they've settled in for the day. You're such a worry wart at times."
"I know, but we can't afford to take any chances here. We can't let them get away. Oh and thanks for that map you faxed over, it's going to be a great help."
Maree smiled even though she knew Terry couldn't see her. "No problem, and Terry?"
"You take care out there, okay?"
"Yeah, I will. I've gotta go. Talk to you soon." He put the phone down and grinned as thoughts of the pretty little ranger floated through his head.
Cassy stirred and reluctantly woke up. Lifting her head off Jon she leaned back in her chair, and looked at her watch and saw that it was a quarter past three. She'd been asleep for the past hour or so and in that time someone had changed Jon's fluid bag as it was now close to full. She glanced at Ponch and saw that he was still sleeping. He looked so peaceful with his hands clasped across his chest and his trademark ring glinting in the afternoon light.
She turned her attention back to Jon. He also looked peaceful, but much too peaceful for her liking. Leaning forward she slid her fingers through his hair. You need a haircut hon, and definitely a wash. Ick! Your hair is so grotty. Cassy shook her head as she jeered at herself. My God woman, Jon's lying in a hospital bed and you're worrying about his hair. She kissed him softly on the lips before getting up to go to the bathroom.
Jon felt pressure on his lips and slowly opened his eyes. He stared at the ceiling for a moment as he remembered where he was. The weight had gone from his chest and he could now move both his hands. Turning his head he looked for Cassy, and grimaced. Ow, God my neck hurts... Puzzled at not finding her he closed his eyes again.
Cassy came back from the bathroom and wandered over to the window. Sighing, she stood there for a moment and stared out at the world beneath her. The street was busy with cars going in both directions, and people walking briskly along the sidewalks. Everyone seemed to be in a hurry. She was about to turn away when she spotted two young boys. Grinning, Cassy watched as they jumped in and out of a puddle left over from yesterday's storm. She giggled as their mother put a stop to the fun and moved them along, much to the boy's displeasure. Placing a hand on her stomach she looked down and smiled. You're not going to do that I hope, are you little one?
She turned away from the window and walked back to the chair between the two beds. Sitting down beside Jon she reached for his hand. His hands weren't there before...
"Jon?" She spoke his name not daring to hope that she'd get a response. She clasped both his hands in hers taking care not to knock the attached drip. "Jon," she called again in a voice not much more than a whisper.
He opened his eyes and looked at her, his confusion dispelling as he took in the face that he knew so well. He smiled at Cassy and she promptly burst into tears. He tried to speak but no sound came out, so he squeezed her hand instead. Standing up she leaned across him and stroked his forehead, smiled and laid her head on his chest as she hugged him tight. She stayed like that for a full minute before pulling away and gazing into his blue eyes.
"Hi," she said simply as she wiped away her tears.
Jon tried to speak but only a strange sort of squeak came out. He reached up and touched her cheek, trying to speak again.
Cassy placed a finger on his lips. "Shhhh sweetie, don't try to talk." He nodded as Cassy pressed the button for the nurses' station and sat on the edge of the bed.
Nurse Erin Jackson left the station as soon as she heard the buzzer going off for bed two in room 32. She'd been doing the observations on the two patrolmen since they'd been brought in, and she was still astounded that they had been abandoned that way. She had witnessed many unpleasant situations, but to leave two men imprisoned like that was callous.
Erin opened the door not sure what to expect and was greeted with a beaming smile from Cassy. She stepped closer and was surprised to find herself looking into the brightest, bluest eyes she had seen in a long time and she smiled.
"Someone's awake at last, I see. How are you feeling?" she asked Jon, pulling her pager out and paging Dr. Burke.
"His voice has gone," Cassy answered for him as she moved out of the way.
Erin picked up his wrist to take his pulse. "That's not uncommon as a dry mouth and throat can cause that. A drink of water will help." She took his temperature, blood pressure and then checked his drip. "All normal," she said as she raised the head of the bed. "How's about we sit you up a bit?"
She picked up Jon's chart and started to make notes as the door opened and Dr. Burke came in. Erin handed him the chart and told him the necessary stats. He checked Jon's eyes and listened to his chest.
The doctor nodded, his brown eyes twinkling. "It's all looking good, you'll be back to normal in next to no time, Jon." He turned to Erin and gave her instructions, smiled warmly at Cassy and left.
Erin straightened Jon's pillows before turning to Cassy. "You can give him a few sips of water to start with, then he can have as much as he wants." She turned to leave and then glanced back at her patient. "My God, those eyes..."
Cassy grinned. "Yeah, they're something else, aren't they?"
All Jon could do was roll the eyes in question and look bemused.
Cassy looked over at Ponch who was still asleep. She knew she should wake him now that Jon was conscious but she held off as she wanted her husband to herself for a little while longer. She poured Jon a glass of water, and held it to his mouth while he managed a couple of sips. He paused and then drank some more.
He licked his lips, cleared his throat and gazed into his wife's eyes and the tears which were still present. "What's wrong, Cassy?" His voice was rough and scratchy, but to Cassy it was the sweetest sound she had heard all day.
"You have no idea, do you?" She settled down on the edge of the bed again as Jon shook his head. "You gave us a big scare you know."
"I did?" He gently touched her face.
"Yeah, you sure did partner."
Jon turned his head towards the voice, concern for his partner surpassing any worries he had for himself when he realized that Ponch was also lying in a bed. "Ponch, what's happened to you? Are you alright?"
"Don't worry about me. How's your head?" Ponch couldn't keep the smile off his face as he looked at Jon sitting up in bed. It was a sight that earlier that morning he wasn't sure that he'd see.
"I've got a headache and my neck is sore." Jon looked from Cassy to Ponch and back again. "Other than that I feel fine, so can one of you please tell me why we're here, and when we're leaving."
Ponch chuckled. "You never could stand hospitals. Just relax Jon." He studied his partner anxiously. "What do you remember from yesterday?"
"Yesterday?" He frowned, struggling to remember. "I remember you teasing me for being late..."
Ponch breathed a sigh of relief. "Yeah that was yesterday. What else do you remember?"
Jon relaxed as the events of Wednesday came back to him. "Hamburgers for lunch. Following some 211 suspects along the Ventura Freeway and then into a yard of some sort," Jon gasped as he remembered more. "There was a dark place that was cold..."
Cassy reached for his hand. "Take your time honey."
"That's all that I can recall." He looked into her eyes. "But I do remember why I was late. You were sick and we were going to the doctor's after work. Did you go?"
"Well? What did the doctor say?"
Cassy fought an inner battle with herself. She couldn't wait to tell Jon her news but at the same time she wanted to tell him in private. She didn't mind if Ponch knew, she just didn't want an audience.
Ponch suspected why she was hesitating so he quickly changed the subject. "Yeah it was dark and cold that's for sure Jon. We weren't found until this morning, and I gotta tell ya, you had me scared. I thought we'd lost ya."
"What do you mean Ponch?" Jon took his eyes off his relieved wife and looked across at his partner.
"There was a time this morning..." he paused, thinking about how much he should reveal. "...that I'd thought that you weren't going to make it. You'd taken a blow to the head, had hypothermia and were dehydrated as well. Honestly Jon, I don't think you would have lasted..." He stopped, realizing by the look on Jon's face that he was horrified. "You okay?"
Jon didn't say anything for a moment which worried the other two.
"Hon?" Cassy squeezed his hand.
He looked at her and then at Ponch, finally speaking. "Yeah, I'm okay," he reassured them. "Hearing that was a shock as I don't remember any of it." He shrugged his shoulders, moaning as he felt how sore they were. "Ow and hopefully I won't," he grimaced.
Ponch nodded in agreement. Yeah, I hope for your sake that you don't, Jon. Because I know those memories aren't going to be easy for me to shake off.
"So, when am I going home?"
"I'm leaving tomorrow but who knows when they're letting you out," answered Ponch, trying to keep the smile off his face.
Jon groaned. "Cassy is that true? Don't you know when I'm going home?"
"No, I don't know hon, as the doctors have just been concerned about you waking up. They haven't mentioned how long you'll be here."
"But if Ponch is only here for a night, that should be enough for me too." Jon whined, as the other two chuckled at him.
Cassy leaned over and kissed him. "You'll get out when they let you go and not before. Ponch wasn't knocked out. You were. Ponch wasn't as dehydrated as you were. Do I need to continue?"
"Okay, I know when I'm beaten," Jon grinned at her. "You're a hard woman at times Cassandra Baker, you know that?"
"Yep sure do. But it's for your own good, just remember that." She leaned over, wrapping her arms around him she hugged him tightly. "It doesn't matter how long you're here. All that matters is that I get to take you home. I was so worried about you." Tears threatened to escape from her eyes again.
Jon enclosed her in his arms and buried his face in the sweet smell of her hair, remembering how much he had wanted to do that yesterday. Realizing just how worried Cassy must have been, he knew that he had no right to complain about being in hospital.
He whispered in her ear. "I love you Cassy Baker."
Cassy pulled back and touched his cheek. "I love you too."
Jon smiled as he closed his eyes and drifted back to sleep.
The sergeant turned off the freeway, focused on the task ahead of him as he headed for the Fort Tejon camping grounds. Nevertheless Terry Sullivan was nervous. Having just received the forensic report from LAPD as well as a report from Captain Hughes, he now knew who they were up against. Steven 'Butch' Williams and Mark Smith both had convictions for armed robbery, and Ricky Punter who had served time for home burglaries.
He couldn't help but smile as he remembered the captain's report. There's certainly no honour amongst thieves, is there? Harry Robertson hadn't held back anything back as he tried to make a deal with the captain in exchange for leniency.
Terry pulled up in front of the Ranger's Station, put the cruiser in park and leapt out almost in one motion. He dashed inside where he found Maree talking to Liam on the radio. Silently she handed him the mic.
"Liam, this is Sergeant Sullivan. What's going on out there?"
"Well, sir," Liam replied quietly. "They've just been sitting there playing cards..."
Maree studied Terry as he spoke. She took in the serious look on his usually jovial face, the hard glint in his brown eyes, but mostly she noticed the way he kept adjusting his gun belt and touching his service revolver. She waited until he had finished talking to Liam before raising her eyebrows and indicating the revolver.
"Are you expecting to use that thing?" she leaned against the desk which took up the majority of space in the small room.
His face relaxed as he looked at her. "God, I hope not. But I will if I have to."
"Fair enough. Which roads are you planning to use?"
"That's why I'm here." He unfolded a map on which he had black lines and red crosses marking various routes to the cabin. "We're splitting up and I thought we'd use these two roads here." His finger pointed to different markings on the map.
"That road is rough at the moment," she said indicating the road on the right. "So you'd be better off using this road and coming in behind them on foot here." Maree directed him to another road to the left of the first one. "There's plenty of cover with trees in that area, and if I remember correctly that shack has no windows at the back."
Terry nodded in agreement, then pointed to the second road he was planning to use. "What about this one?"
"This road will take you directly to the shack from the front, but if you parked here in this clearing, then walked through the trees there, they'd never see you coming."
Terry thought for a moment. "That sounds feasible. I knew it was a good idea to stop in here first." He folded up the map and turned to leave.
Maree touched him on the arm but didn't say a word, her eyes saying it all.
"Yeah, I'll be careful. We have a fool proof plan, don't we?"
"What time is it Butch?" Ricky asked as he lit up another cigarette.
"Ten minutes since you last asked," sighed Butch. "The time isn't going to go any quicker just 'cuz you keep asking. It's quarter past three, okay. Just shut up and play!"
"Yeah, alright," Ricky mumbled.
They played for another 15 minutes, in which both Butch and Smithie won a hand each. It added to Ricky's mounting frustration.
"I've had enough of this shit," he scowled as he flung his cards down on the table. "You two have marked these cards, haven't ya?"
Butch looked up, amused. "You're not calling us cheats, are ya Ricky?"
He glanced at the pile of cash in front of Butch and the larger stack which Smithie had. To make things interesting they'd been playing with the proceeds from the robbery.
"Yeah, I am." Ricky stood up, and pointed to the piles of cash. "You're trying to cheat me outta my share, and I won't let you!"
Butch laughed. "Sit down and stop your whining ya little shithead."
"What did ya call me?"
"A little shithead. Ya wanna make something of it?" Butch stood up and glared while Smithie started to laugh.
"Butch is right. You're a whining, moaning little shithead who can't play cards for crap."
Their laughter at his expense, combined with the stress of the past twenty-four hours was too much for Ricky, and something inside him snapped. He was about to storm out of the shack when he caught sight of the stolen revolver which Smithie had carelessly thrown on a chair. Picking it up, he ran his finger over the barrel, a wicked smile playing on his lips. He took a deep breath, turned and pointed the gun at Smithie.
"Am I still a shithead?"
"Yeah, ya are," he said without flinching. "Now put it down Ricky 'cuz I know ya haven't got the balls to use it."
"I'll show ya who's got balls," he said as he cocked the gun and waved it back and forth them. "I don't hear ya laughing now Smithie."
"No, I guess you don't," he replied as he slipped his hand under the table. A moment later, Ricky was staring down the barrel of a Colt 45, and Smithie was chuckling. "Do you hear me laughing now?"
Ricky composure crumbled and he nearly wet himself. His hand started to tremble so he turned and headed for the door.
"I'll show you two. I'll find me something to practice on and then I'll be back. Maybe even your good for nothin nephew," he shouted as he slammed the door behind him and took off down the road, with the revolver still in his hand. Butch and Smithie looked at each other and cracked up.
"God, he is a little shithead, isn't he?" Smithie said as he tucked the gun back in his waistband.
"Yeah, you can say that again." Butch shuffled the cards. "Come on, let's play some more while he cools down."
Outside in the State Park, Terry was ready to give the signal to move in when the front door to the shack opened and they saw someone come out. They heard him shouting as he slammed the door and they couldn't miss the revolver he was waving around. Even from a distance they could tell it was one of theirs. Terry held his men back as they watched him stalk off down the road but suddenly he stopped, turned around and headed towards the station wagon parked nearby. He hopped in the car and they saw him bend down. The car roared into life and next thing they knew it was screeching off down the road.
The moment the car was out of sight, Terry gave the order for two cruiser officers to follow the suspect. He then gave the signal for his remaining men to converge on the shack. Four officers approached from the rear and the remaining two from the front, guns at the ready.
Butch glanced up as he heard Ricky drive away and just shook his head. He turned his attention back to his cards and the lousy hand he had dealt, sighing when Smithie promptly won that hand. As Butch started to deal the next hand, all hell suddenly broke loose around them.
The front and back doors were kicked open and both men jumped to their feet as the room abruptly filled with tan clad police. Smithie's gun was out in a second, pointing at several officers at once.
"Put your weapon down now!" Sergeant Terry Sullivan ordered as he stared the older man down.
Smithie was wise enough to realize that he wasn't going to win this one as he reluctantly put the Colt 45 on the table. Both he and Butch put their hands up and they were quickly cuffed and marched outside.
Butch glared at the officer holding him. "How did you find us out here?"
Terry chuckled. "Let's just say, disturbing the peace isn't the smartest move to make."
Butch and Smithie looked at one another confused, until the penny dropped and they both exclaimed, "Ricky!"
"Wait till I get my hands on that little creep. He'll wish he was dead," Butch growled.
"You can deal with him on your own time," the sergeant said grimly. "Right now you're on mine and we've got plenty of charges for you two. Steven Williams and Mark Smith, isn't it? Robbery, imprisonment and attempted murder. How's that for starters?"
"Butch, the name is Butch! I haven't been called that in years," he snarled. "How'd you know, anyways?"
"Does the name Harry Robertson ring any bells with you?" asked Terry.
"Shit!" Butch shook his head in disgust.
"Come on, let's go," ordered Terry, leading them away.
Smithie cautiously glanced around hoping that his nephew hadn't been captured as well. It'd been well over an hour since he'd left to go for his walk, and he still hadn't returned. The pigs aren't going to hear about him from me, that's for sure. Butch will keep his mouth shut too, but Ricky... He's dumb enough to think he could shoot himself outta trouble. Hopefully they'll pump him full of lead and then he'll never get the chance to squeal on Jase. Never did like Ricky all that much. At that moment, aHispanic officer walked over to the group, and Smithie's heart sank. Ah shit! That dark haired pig we locked up yesterday will spill the beans, for sure. Please Jason, stay away...
Ricky wasn't sure where he was going when he took off down the road. Maybe I will hunt out Jason and practice shooting at him. That'd show them all, especially Smithie who thinks he's such a hot shot with a gun. Yeah, that'd show them that I mean business when I tell them Jason's dead.
He drove for a few more minutes before he heard the sirens. Looking in his rear-view mirror he saw two CHP cars behind him, both with their lights flashing. He panicked and pressed his foot down hard on the accelerator. The car sped up but the CHP were gaining all the time. He sped past the Ranger's Station and realized he was heading towards the freeway. He smiled wickedly. All I gotta do is reach the freeway, and I'm home free!
The road made a sudden sharp turn to the right and then one to the left. He managed to manoeuvre around them with the tires throwing up dust from the loose gravel at the edges, but Ricky was fast losing control. Unfortunately, he didn't see the large oak tree around the next bend until it was too late, hitting it with a resounding bang. As the officers approached the vehicle, all was silent in the car except for the glass in the windshield which piece by piece fell onto the lifeless body, now lying unrecognisable on the hood of the car.
Jason heard the car as Ricky screeched down the road but he didn't think much about it as he headed back to the shack. He'd been gone longer than he had intended, but the day was such a pleasant one that he'd kept walking. As he approached the rickety old cabin he heard people shouting and ducked behind a large flannelbush. Peering through the leaves, he watched as his uncle and Butch were led out with handcuffs on their wrists. There was no sign of Ricky so Jason guessed that he'd taken off in the car.
After several nerve-wracking minutes, Jason realized that the police weren't looking for him. They'd marched Butch and Smithie away while other officers went back into the shack. A few minutes later they came out with a couple of plastic bags, walked around the cabin once more and then left.
Jason stayed where he was for another half an hour before heading into the shack. There was only one thing of interest for him there: the old backpack he had found. Going straight to the cupboard, he let out a whoop of joy. "They didn't find it!" He took out the novels and pulled out the plastic bag. His share of the money was there, all $140,000 of it. Stuffing the money back in the bag, he grabbed some of their supplies and his jacket.
He knew it would soon be dark so he decided to go back towards the lake. I'll spend the night in that log cabin I saw, he thought as he started off once more. Today, I'm still a fugitive, but tomorrow...tomorrow I'm free!
Joe strolled through the hospital to room 32 with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. Thank goodness I was finally able to leave the station. That paperwork never gets any easier, he thought as he pressed the button for the elevator. I promised Cassy I'd be down here within the hour after she called me about Jon, but it's now after five. The elevator door opened and he stepped inside, thoughts still going through his head. Gosh, that captain can talk. He shook his head gently, as he remembered the phone call from Captain Hughes. Jon and Frank will be relieved to hear that those bastards were captured today. Shame though that one of them had to die, nobody deserves that.
He opened the door to the pleasant sound of Ponch laughing followed by a chuckle from Jon as Grossie finished telling one of his silly jokes.
"That's the best sound I've heard all day," Joe said with a grin.
"I've got plenty more Sarge. How many do ya want to hear?" asked Grossie, chuckling.
"None," Joe replied as he walked over to Jon. "God, you're a sight for sore eyes. Do you have any idea how many hairs on my head have turned grey over the past day and a half?"
Jon grinned. "Quite a few I would guess from what I've been hearing. I remember very little from yesterday."
"That's probably a good thing," Joe patted Jon's shoulder. "How are you feeling?"
"Getting better by the minute. The ache in my head isn't as bad and I've had a massage which has freed my neck up. I'm sure I'll be able to go home tomorrow when Ponch leaves."
Ponch chuckled loudly. "You wish partner. Our good Dr. Burke isn't going to allow it and your little missus isn't going to agree to it either, no matter how much she wants you back home."
"Since when did you become a doctor, Ponch?" Jon retorted.
Joe laughed. "There's not too much wrong with the pair of you. But Jon, if the Doctor wants you to stay put, you stay put and that's an order."
"Can you boss us around while we're in here?" Ponch asked with a mischievous glint in his eyes. "Isn't this out of your jurisdiction?"
"That's a big word Ponch, but I didn't hear you getting bossed around, only me." Jon's eyes also had a glint in them. "But I think you're right. Hospitals are off limits for sergeants, aren't they?"
"Not for this sergeant, they're not," Joe chortled. "Speaking of the little missus, where is your lovely wife?"
"Bonnie took her home to get some pajamas for Jon and a change of clothes for me," Ponch answered. "For when I go home tomorrow," he added with a laugh.
Jon rolled his eyes. "Yeah rub it in partner, why don't ya."
"Did Grossie tell you the news?" asked Joe.
"No, I left that for you Sarge," he replied, biting into the apple he'd taken off Ponch's tray.
Joe sat down on the edge of Jon's bed. "The three men who put you in here were caught this afternoon. Well, two were caught and one smashed into a tree and that was the end of him."
"What about the fourth one? Did you get him too?" Ponch asked seriously as he looked at Joe.
"There were four of them? LAPD were certain that there were only three who held up the bank, but they weren't sure if there was a driver or not."
"There was definitely four of them, Sarge." Ponch thought for a moment. "The one with the gun got called Smithie by the man giving the orders. The third one looked a bit younger than those two, and the fourth one was just a kid really."
"Steven Williams and Mark Smith were caught and Ricky Punter was the one killed. The first two are in their thirties and Punter was 27. They all had records," Joe paused as he remembered the phone call to the station. "One of the four made a call to the Station last night. It must have been the kid as I can't see someone with their history having a conscience."
"There was a phone call?" queried Jon.
Joe nodded. "There's a lot you don't know I'm afraid."
"Well, you'd better fill us in then," said Ponch as he looked at Jon who nodded in agreement.
Joe spent the next 20 minutes or so telling them about the events of the previous day. He started from the time that Bear arrived at the storage yard and ended with the phone call to Central and the ensuring mix ups with passing the information on.
"Cadet Waugh is going to receive an official warning regarding her part in it. She's lucky to still have a career with the CHP," Joe finished and looked at his two stunned officers. "Everything that could go wrong, went wrong I'm afraid. We should have had you outta there sooner than we did, and I'm sorry for that."
Jon spoke first. "None of this is your fault Sarge. These things happen. Will there be a search for the kid?"
"I'll pass the information onto LAPD. It'll be their call."
"He didn't do much out there yesterday," Ponch said as he recalled Jason's face and the uncertainty on it. "He didn't shove a gun in my face and I'm certain he didn't touch Jon, not if the look of shock on his face was anything to go by. He wasn't in the bank if LAPD's information is correct, and he did make that phone call."
"What are you saying Frank?"
"Perhaps we just forget there were four of them and settle for three of them. The ones who obviously set this up."
"That's a big call to make Frank."
"Yeah, I know. But where do you start looking? If he wasn't out there today with the other three, he could be anywhere by now. Gosh he could be in Australia for all we know."
Joe was amused. "Australia you think?"
Ponch laughed. "Yeah, he could be hiding out with the kangaroos that they have hopping down the streets over there."
"Or hanging out with Crocodile Dundee and that knife of his," added Grossie.
"Alright I get the picture. He could be anywhere. I still have to pass the information onto LAPD but I can certainly pass your thoughts on with it. I'm sure they're happy with the results they've been given today, and by one of our smallest stations too. The officers at Fort Tejon can certainly be proud of themselves. Is that okay with you, Jon?"
Joe looked at him and smiled. He wasn't going to get an answer, at least not tonight as Jon was sound asleep. Joe took that as a signal to leave. Saying goodbye to Ponch, he guided Grossie towards the door and they left. Ponch closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep as well.
It was around lunchtime the next day when Jon woke up and looked around for Cassy, but she wasn't there. He glanced at the clock in the room and realized that she must have gone to get some lunch. It was tranquil in the room now that Ponch had been released. The morning had been quite hectic with doctors, nurses and visitors, and Jon was glad to get some peace and quiet.
Cassy came back into the room and smiled when she saw that he was awake. "Hi honey. I was hoping to get back before you woke up but you've beat me to it."
She went to sit down on the chair but Jon grinned at her and patted the bed. "Come and join me up here. Now that we're alone you can tell me about your doctor's appointment."
Cassy slipped her shoes off and climbed up next to him. There wasn't much room but she didn't mind snuggling in close. Jon put his arm around her and kissed the top of her head. "Okay sweetie, spill it. What did the doctor say?"
Cassy looked up at him and smiled softly. "We're having a baby."
"A baby? You're....you're pregnant?" Jon stumbled over his words as he took in Cassy's news.
"Yes Jon. A baby." Cassy looked into his eyes trying to gauge his reaction.
"A baby?" He repeated. As the words finally sunk in his face lit up in a huge smile and he hugged her tightly. "Oh my God Cassy. We're having a baby."
"Yes we are. So you're happy?"
"Oh sweetie, of course I am. I just wasn't expecting that sort of news. It's startled me a bit but it's great." Jon tilted her face up and tenderly kissed her on the lips. "But how did it happen?"
Cassy grinned wickedly. "Well you probably kissed me like that and then I did this." She slipped her hand inside Jon's pajama top and ran her fingers over his chest. "And then you would have put your hand here." She placed Jon's hand on her breast before leaning in closer and nuzzling his neck.
"Hmmm Cass, I think I know all about the birds and the bees," Jon moaned as she continued to run her hands all over him. "Cassy! Stop that you wicked woman. Someone might come in. I'm supposed to be resting, aren't I?"
"Yeah but there's one part of you that isn't."
"I know," Jon moaned again as he took her hand and placed it above the bed covers. "You'd better keep that where I can see it."
Cassy giggled. "You're no fun Jon, no fun at all."
"I'm saving my fun for when you take me home."
"Is that a promise?"
"Oh, you bet it is," grinned Jon. "So how did this happen? I thought the Pill was 100% effective or close to it."
"Remember that course of antibiotics I had to take about six weeks ago? Well apparently on rare occasions that can affect the Pill. So guess what?"
"We hit the jackpot."
"Yep we sure did." Cassy snuggled in close again as they discussed their unexpected but wonderful surprise.
It was later that evening when Ponch arrived for a visit.
"Hi partner," he said, sitting himself down on the chair. "Are they letting you go tomorrow?"
"Yeah. Why didn't you tell me Ponch?" Jon asked with a touch of annoyance.
"Tell you what?" Ponch looked puzzled as he took in his partner's unusually stern look.
"That you saved my life. David Collins, one of the paramedics that rescued us, stopped by to see how I was and he told me what you had done. You should have told me."
"I'm sorry Jon. I didn't think it was anything special. I only did what you would have done for me."
"Nothing special," Jon looked at Ponch in disbelief. "You save my life and think it's nothing?"
"You know how modest I am," he tried to lighten the mood.
"You? Modest?" Jon couldn't help but chuckle at his partner. "Anyway Ponch, thanks. Cassy and I will always be grateful."
"Forget it Jon, I'm sure I probably owe you one anyway. Speaking of Cassy, where is she?"
"I made her go home and rest."
"Yeah, she's fine just a bit tired that's all."
Ponch grinned. "Is there anything you want to tell me?"
"Oh I don't know. Maybe about the pitter-patter of tiny feet?"
Jon smiled. "How'd you know?"
"I guessed. Cassy was so emotional yesterday and you'd said she'd been sick. So I'm right?"
"Yep. We're having a baby."
"Way to go partner. Congratulations," Ponch leaned over, shook Jon's hand and patted him on the shoulder at the same time.
"You know Jon. If you and Cassy really want to thank me you could name the baby after me. Frank Baker doesn't sound half bad," Ponch said as he tried to keep a straight face.
"And what if we have a girl?"
"No problem. Call her Frances that'd be okay with me too."
Jon chuckled. "You know Ponch, I don't think my life would be worth living if I agreed to that. Cassy loves you but somehow I can't see her going along with that. How about you be the favourite uncle instead?"
"Deal. Oh Jon, this is going to be great. I'll teach the little tyke how to wrap sergeants around his little finger and how to have girls falling at his feet."
Acknowledgments: Many, many thanks to my wonderful friend and Beta Reader Dayna. Thanks so much for taking this amazing journey with me, you've pushed me and made me roll my eyes at you at times, but it's been worth it. I've cut down on my comma use, use pronouns more instead of nouns and hopefully no more 3rd person. You've helped me so much. Thank you!