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Blair was excited, on a whim he'd entered a toy store while out on his errands. For a Saturday morning the store wasn't too crowded and Blair was able to wander around and browse. He wasn't sure what had drawn him into the store in the first place, but as he approached, knew he just had to go inside. Blair marveled at all the computer games, not to mention the video games - the stuff kids had to entertain themselves boggled his mind.

As a child he was easily amused and was content with a book. He smiled to himself as he walked down another isle full of computer/electronic equipment, course he realized now that he had been the 'odd' kid. Happier to have his face in a book rather than sitting mindlessly in front of a television. He wasn't sure if that decision would've been as easy if he had access to a television in all his homes. With the travels that Naomi took him on, sometimes there wasn't a TV, sometimes there wasn't indoor plumbing, let alone something that many of his mother's friends saw as frivolous.

He shook his head and concentrated on the new isle that was filled with board games. The old standbys were still around, like Monopoly, Yahtzee and Boggle; but he was looking for something different. The boxes started to blur together, reds, blues, yellow, purple - which seemed to be a new color of choice - white, black... But then a box did catch his eye, whether it was the red, or the big "Uno" on the front of it, he wasn’t sure. Blair stopped and picked it up; it was Uno Attacks, an automated game. He grinned and flipped over the box to read the special features.

Wow he thought; it spits cards at the players and the rules have changed a little. He grinned, a sort of evil grin, and headed for the register with the game under his arm. He couldn't quite stifle the smile as he checked out and the clerk looked at him strangely. Blair couldn't wait to get to the loft, to show Jim the new game and to call Simon and Megan over to play. What could be better than a rematch with them with something that practically threw the cards at you?

The drive to the loft took longer than he wanted it. More people were out and about, whether enjoying the too frequently unseen sun, or on errands, Blair didn't care, just that it was delaying his plans. The loft's street came into view and he only had one thing in his sights... the parking spot. He threw the car in park, climbed out, slammed the door and took off toward the front of the building. Instead of waiting for the elevator, like a normal, unexcitable person, Blair decided to run up the stairs. As he rounded the corner and headed toward their door, it opened; he laughed and continued with his trot and dumped the bags on the kitchen table.

Jim shut the door and turned to his roommate. "Chief, what's the hurry? I heard your fast exit out of the car and the near sprint up here."

He was breathing heavy, but he didn't want to wait. "Jim, you won't believe what I found!!" Blair shrugged out of his jacket and tossed it to Jim as he headed toward the refrigerator for a drink. The bottle of water was gulped and half gone before he turned back around to see Jim start to fish inside his bag.

"Hey!" Blair yelled indignantly, "You can't look before I tell you."

Jim smiled and held up his hands. "Ok. So, what's in the bag?"

Blair shook his head. "Uh uh, what do you mean you heard me getting out of my car?"

"Just that. I heard you get out."

"But why?"

"What do you mean why? I just did, I heard your car coming, it's not all the quiet, so I just... listened. Why is this so fascinating today?"

"Um, it's not I guess, maybe I haven't gotten enough oxygen to my brain after that climb. So anyway, I was out doing errands, you know I had to pick up some more algae for my shakes, some tea for sleepless nights, some paper for the printer, a book..."

"Sandburg! I don't need the list of items."

"Right. Ok. So I was walking passed this toy store..."

Jim held up a hand. "I'm also not interested in your sexual habits."

Blair blinked, taken aback by the joke. He looked at Jim's face and could see the cop trying to hold his features blank and laughed. "Jim, man, you only wish to be interested." He paused only briefly as Jim tried not to choke before he continued. "As I was saying, this toy store, it seemed to be calling to me, so I went in and looked around. You won't guess what I found."

"An Uno game?" Jim said smugly.

"Bastard! You cheated. Yeah yeah, I found this Uno game; it spits cards at you after you hit a button. It's so cool! We have to call Simon and Megan to see if they can come over and play."

"Maybe we should call their mommies first." Jim commented as he pulled the game out of the bag.

"Jim, sometimes your ever shifting moods astound even me. Just look at it and I'll call the other two."

"Don't you think we're too old for this? I mean, come on, Uno again?"

"What, you didn't have a good time before?" Blair picked up the phone and walked toward the balcony doors as he dialed.

"Yeah I did, but that doesn't mean that Simon and Megan are going to want to play this on a Saturday night. We’re adults, cops for god's sake."

Blair ignored him as he talked to Megan. "Hi Megan, it's Blair.... Yeah I'm good, and you?... Oh yeah? I already did the errand thing..." He chuckled. "Well when you have a clock conscious roommate you tend to... owww!" Blair turned around and scowled at the clock conscious roommate and patted his hair down; the object, a balled up dishtowel, rested at his feet. "Yeah I'm fine, I should amend that whole roommate thing and add immature to the description."

This time he expected the attack and ducked. The wet washrag hit a window in the door and slid to the floor. It left a horrible streak and as Blair walked away, he saw Jim grab the Windex and towels, then heard mumbling, but couldn't make it out. "Anyway, we were wondering if you were free tonight. I got this new game and wanted to try it with you. It's Uno Attacks. Spits cards at you... Yeah? Great! We'll see you around seven then. Alright, see ya."

Blair clicked off the phone and wandered over to Jim to watch him make a few extra passes with the paper towel over the glass. Like the smartass he was, Blair asked, "Now... are you going to throw things again?"

His answer came in the way of a squirt of Windex and a face full of paper towel as Jim thoroughly 'cleaned' his face. The phone was snagged from his hand, followed by Jim's smiling voice, "I'll call Simon. Now you have to make something to feed us. You're making us play this with you, you need to feed us."

Blair spit into the towel and crazily wiped his face with his hands, trying to get the smell and taste of the spray off. "Ugh, gross..." With one final swipe he added, "Yeah whatever, I'll make something." He started to go through the cabinets, looking for anything that would appease everyone. Not always the simplest task, but he was up for it.

 

 

The final touches for dinner were warming on the stove. Blair had sent him out in the afternoon for a supply run and to pick up batteries for the evening. Jim had just finished inserting the batteries into the yellow and red monster that Blair planned to inflict on them all tonight. Simon had acquiesced with surprisingly little fuss - probably anticipating winning another dinner from Conner.

Stripping the cards from the plastic wrapper, Jim started to shuffle, collecting the spill as the slippery plastic refused to stay in nice piles. After seven or eight shuffles he loaded the cards face down under the flip-up cover of the device. Pivoting it sideways he hit the big red Uno button on the front. A rather wimpy ding rewarded his efforts. Another push and another ding.

"Hey Sandburg, I think this thing is brok..." The next ding was followed by a pause and then a mechanical whir and rushing noise. With a plastic rattle and flutter, a pile of cards were ejected from the front slot to slide all over the table and onto the floor. Jim started to chuckle as he cleaned up the 7... 8... 9 cards it had spit out. Blair was just staring in amazement from the kitchen before his face broke into an unholy grin. He came over and hit the button himself. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Ding, whir, spray... and Blair was collecting five cards from the table.

"Oh man! This is going to be hysterical!!!" He enthused. "I can't wait to see Simon staring down the machine." Jim just laughed again and sat down with the rules as Sandburg went to finish up in the kitchen. On his way back to the table Jim looked up and said, "Hey, Chief - get the door huh?" A smooth pivot was the only response and Sandburg pulled the door open as Simon walked up to it.

"What? Not you too Sandburg?" Simon growled, shedding his coat.

"Nah man, I just do what he tells me - some of the time anyway." Sandburg grinned. “Want a beer?” he asked Simon and headed toward the fridge.

Jim snorted and continued read. As Blair reached the kitchen island Jim cocked his head and said, "Err, Sandburg..." When Blair turned to look, he nodded at the door. Sandburg only sighed as he pivoted back to open it to Megan’s astonished face. Jim traded smug glances with Simon as the captain went after his interrupted drink.

Dinner disappeared quickly. Clearing the table after dinner, which was interrupted by further antics and jibes, was also quickly accomplished. Drinks were refilled and the players settled down to listen to the new rules. Jim placed the game shooter in the center of the table and unfolded the rules.

“Ok, obviously we’re dealing with a whole different beast here, people.” Sandburg snorted and grinned at his not-so-subtle imitation of Simon while Simon just grunted. He grinned and continued, “We’re dealing with a whole bunch of new cards. There is no drawing. If you don’t have a card to match the color or number, you have to hit the button and take your chances. The new cards are...” and he laid them out on the table.

“Hit 2 which replaces Draw 2. With this card the person after you hits the launch button twice. Trade Hands is where one player exchanges his hand for another person’s hand.”

Sandburg laughed, “I can see that being a real opportunity for nastiness.”

“Just you Yanks wait,” Megan threatened.

Ignoring the bi-play, Jim continued. “Discard All lets you get rid of all the cards of the same color in your hand; Wild All Hit is where the person calls a color, which is the wild part and then everyone else hits the launch button once and adds any cards collected to their hand. And finally, Wild Hit-Fire. This card makes the next person to play hit the launch button until they get cards and the color can be changed.” Jim looked up, “Any questions?”

Various looks of impatience and comprehension met his glance and as he gave the cards a final shuffle, he said “Sandburg, turn the launcher on please.” After his partner placed the machine back on the table, he dealt, then lifted the cover and placed the unused deck face-down in the holder. He let the lid drop, pulling out a blue 7 to put on top of the machine on the discard area. He quickly gathered his slippery cards and rearranged them. Let’s see, he had a red Skip, 4, 6 and 7, a blue Discard All, a green Hit 2 and a Wild.

“Ok, Chief, you’re up.” Sandburg nodded and led off with a blue 3, Simon played a blue Reverse and Sandburg placed a blue 0 and looked at Jim. He played his blue Discard All, scowling at the unfairness of only having the one blue card. Megan played a blue 2 and Simon a yellow 2. Sandburg, with a scowl at his hand, swung the launcher around to face him and gingerly hit the button, snapping his arm back out of the way. The rather sickly ding rewarded his efforts and then nothing. He breathed an almost silent sigh of relief and Jim tried not to laugh and drink at the same time.

Jim played his Wild card and called, “Red.”

Megan just placed a red 5 on top and spun the machine around to face Simon. Simon eyed it, then the Australian detective, “And how did you know I needed that?” he asked with a raised eyebrow and a growl.

“Police intuition, sir,” she said innocently.

Simon scowled and hit the button: a ding, a pause and then the whir. With a flutter and rattle, the machine spit eight cards at the captain, much to his dismay. “Shit!” And to the laughter and exclamations of the rest of the table, he gathered up the mess and went to sort it out.

Blair laid a red 8 on top and spun the machine to face Jim. The Sentinel just raised an eyebrow and played his red 4. Megan, with a sweet smile, Skipped Simon, who just scowled again. Blair played another red 8 and straightened the slipping pile. Jim played his 7 and Megan played a green 7. Simon, with a wide grin, slapped a green Trade Hands on the pile and gleefully collected her remaining three cards while handing her his pile of thirteen. Leaning near his partner he muttered, “Look Chief, she’s so annoyed, she can’t even come up with any good incomprehensible Aussie curses.” Blair threw his head back and laughed as Megan graced the two of them with a decidedly unladylike gesture.

“You realize, Captain, that I’m now aware of what your hand is...” she stated primly.

“Yes Connor, and I don’t believe I’ll be letting the game continue long enough for you to take advantage of it.”

Snorting at the arrogance of such a statement and further ignoring her superior, she took a swig of her beer, “It’s your turn right, Sandy?”

“Yeah. Yeah, it is.” He looked his hand over and then eyed Jim’s remaining three, “You’re looking a little low there, Jim.” And with that obnoxious statement he placed a green Hit 2 on the pile.

“You realize I’m going to use your toothbrush to clean the bathroom grout and not tell you, right?”

“Yup - sure do. Don’t care man. Hit the button.”

Eyeing his partner to make sure that he knew that retribution was being planned he hit the button. Ding. Whir. He pulled the card that was sticking from the launcher free and added it to the other three and hit the button again. At the innocent and solitary ding, he relaxed tense muscles and spun the machine to face Megan.

“Bloody hell,” she muttered selecting a green card. Simon gleefully played a green 3, Sandburg a green 1 and Jim tossed out his new green Skip to Megan’s much more enthusiastic, “Bloody Hell!!!” Simon, crowing “UNO!” deposited a red Skip to Blair’s disgust and Jim got rid of the red Skip he’d had since the beginning of the game, coincidentally skipping Megan again. She started muttering threats involving hair waxing, high heels, rope and a camera and Jim suppressed a shudder as he tuned her out.

Simon eyed the red Skip sitting atop the pile with disgust. “Don’t have a red card, do you sir?” Megan inquired, snarkiness lacing her tone as she spun the machine around to face him. Simon actually growled, took a swig of his beer and hit the button. Nothing happened. “HA! Still Uno!”

Sandburg played a red 9, Jim a red 7, Megan tossed a red Reverse and Jim played his last red card passing the play to Sandburg. Blair looking vaguely apprehensive put out a red 7, “Uno.”

Simon, again with a scowl, hit the launch button and again nothing happened. “Still Uno.”

Megan dropped a blue 7 and Jim, in a last ditch effort, returned the favor and gave his partner a blue Hit 2. Sandburg hit the button, paused and hit it again, that sat back with a palpable aura of smugness, “Uno.”

Simon swung the machine around to face him and hit the button, “STILL Uno, dammit!!!” Megan played a blue 0 and Jim swung the machine around to face himself.

Staring at the black slot and feeling vaguely uncomfortable - like he was looking down the barrel of a weapon, he hit the button. Ding, whir and the expected flutter of cards. With a sigh, he collected his 5... 6... 7 cards and began to arrange them.

“Don’t bother, Jim,” Blair interrupted him, and he laid the cards facedown on the table as his partner put his final card, a blue Reverse on the pile.

“Dammit!” Simon tossed down his card, a green 4 and stood to stretch. “Your ass is grass and I’m the tractor next hand Sandburg. You get me?”

Snapping off a credible military salute, Sandburg barked out, “Sir, yes sir.” Then scooted, laughing, out his chair to avoid Simon’s swipe.

 

 

Blair stood laughing, his stomach in light spasms as Simon glared at him. He looked toward Jim and he was shaking his head and collecting all the cards. “Now now, boys,” Jim said, “this is a friendly game.”

“Friendly game? I don’t think so mates, this is vicious! I mean the thing throws cards at you, allows you to take another mates hand...”

Before Megan got really going, Blair interrupted. “It’s all for fun... right?” All he got in return were glares from his captain and fellow detective, Jim was keeping his head low but Blair could tell that he was hiding a smile. “Anyone want any more beer or snacks or something?”

A chorus of ‘yeahs’ assaulted his ears and once again his head was in the refrigerator. As he flipped the tops off all the beer bottles he wondered why he was always the run and fetch guy. He put a bottle in front of everyone and sat down. “Next time you guys are on your own. I’m not jumping up to get anything for a round.”

“Whatever you say Chief.” Jim said as he smirked and pushed the Uno machine to the middle of the table, discard already on top.

“You think I can’t do it?”

“I didn’t say that. But we’re here ‘cause of you, the least you can do is wait on us.”

Stunned into seconds of silence, Blair looked at Simon and Megan and they both wore the same statement as Jim: outright smugness. Not even wanting to comment, Blair just sipped his beer and watched Simon throw down a green 2 on top of the red 2 that was already there. Megan cheerfully discarded a blue 2 and Jim a blue 4. At least someone knew how to stay in the color. Blair looked at his hand and decided on the blue 7.

Simon looked from his hand to the machine and back again. Probably trying to figure out if he should play a ‘mean’ card or take his chances with the button. Blair figured the card would win... and yep, Simon threw down a Wild Hit Fire and called green. Blair smiled as Megan actually growled as she hit the button and crowed when nothing came out.

“Ah, Megan, you have to keep hitting it till cards come out,” Jim explained.

“What? Really?”

“Afraid so.”

“Dammit.” She hit the button three more times, each time with a gentler touch, but it didn’t matter, 7 cards plopped out and she scraped each and every one across the table top as she placed them in her hand, Sandburg figured to be annoying. Jim just watched and with each scrape, his eyes twitched. At the third card Blair shifted so he was able to stretch out his legs better. Extending his right leg he bumped his foot against Jim’s leg. The detective’s head snapped toward him and Blair murmured “you alright?” Jim nodded and played a green 8.

Blair tapped his foot against Jim’s leg again and then sat back while he played a green 5. There were advantages to having a rainbow in his hand – he didn’t run out of colors for a few rounds at least. Simon it seemed, was having all the luck, he played another card from his hand, a green 2.

Megan, just to be spiteful he was sure, plopped down a Wild All Hit and called red. Jim hit the button and was rewarded with only two cards; Blair tapped it and got three; Simon received four.

“Proud of yourself there Aussie?” Jim asked as he played a red 1.

“Oh yeah, I still have the most cards, but at least this guy over here isn’t as smug anymore.”

“Oh no?” said Simon. “Just wait till it’s my turn.”

Blair shook his head and discarded a red 5. Simon smiled a smiled that was all teeth, which of course didn’t bode well for someone. The captain shifted his cards and picked out five cards and placed them all on the discard pile. It was a red Discard All.

“Bastard!” Megan exclaimed.

Jim laughed. “Megan, it’s all part of the game, really.”

“You seem awful calm, Jim,” she said as she played a red 4.

Blair snorted. “Only ‘cause nothing horrible has happened to him yet, just you wait.”

“Just keep shifting your cards there, chuckles, and worry about actually finding a card in that mess you call a hand.”

“How would you know... oh that’s right, you’re all knowing, all seeing, all... ow!” Blair leaned over the table to rub his shin where his Sentinel had kicked him. That’s the thanks he got for stopping whatever was happening while Megan was putting her cards away. He knew how it was. Jim just shook his head and played red 3.

It was Blair’s turn to have an evil grin. He carefully plucked the red Trade Hands card, put it into the pile and turn toward Simon. “Your cards sir.”

“What? Oh no, that’s not fair! I worked hard at getting down this low.”

“Sir, it’s really none of our business what you do...”

“Ellison!”

“Well it’s not,” Jim replied as he laughed.

“Simon, give me your hand, it’s a fair move.” Blair waved his hand in a ‘gimme gimme’ motion until Simon forked over the three cards. “And if you didn’t want something like this to happen then you shouldn’t have discarded so many cards.”

“That’s the name of the game. Get rid of the cards.”

“Simon, just play something. You know that Sandy is just luring you into a game of wits.”

Simon pulled out a red 2 and looked at Megan. “I knew that, you think I couldn’t win?”

Blair couldn’t help it; he choked and sputtered the beer he was trying to swallow. Finally getting the liquid down he started to cough and felt a hand lightly banging on his back. He looked up and saw Jim leaning over with a smile. Blair coughed a couple more times, then cleared his throat, not looking at Simon.

“Sandburg, what was that? You think you’re wittier than me son?”

Blair bit his lip, looked at Jim, then Megan, then Simon. “No, of course not Simon, I just swallowed wrong, really. You’re the best.” He said with a smile, then a thumbs up with his left hand.

“You’re a sarcastic bastard, you know that?”

“I know.” Blair was snickering, he tried to stop, but just couldn’t. He watched as Megan played a green 2, Jim a green Discard All in which he got rid of four cards. He didn’t have any green or the number so he hit the button. It made it’s ding, then gave him one card. He was pleased. Simon discarded a green 2.

Megan, with something that looked like glee across her face, looked at Jim. She slowly took out a card and discarded it. It was a green Trade Hands. She was still smiling as she reached for Jim’s hand, which he automatically pulled away from her.

“What happened to, ‘It’s all part of the game?’ Jim?”

“I’ve got no problem mate, here you go.” Jim maturely dropped his cards on the tabletop as he plucked Megan’s from her hand.

Blair shook his head, both at Jim’s antics, and the fact that he had to hit the button. Again. He was pressing his luck, he knew it, but maybe he could get lucky. He pressed it and nothing came out.

“Yes!” he exclaimed.

“Some have all the luck,” Simon said disgustingly as he played a green 5. Megan played a red 5, Jim a red 3, Blair a blue 3. Simon glanced at Blair and narrowed his eyes.

“What?” asked Blair innocently.

“Didn’t like red? I happen to like red.”

“Uh... sorry?”

“Ah, no matter.” He played a blue Hit Two, much to Megan’s displeasure. After hitting it twice, Megan still received nothing, which really wasn’t fair, but seeing the two big men scowl at the Uno machine, he kept quiet.

The play continued and he sucked more of his beer down. Jim played a red 4, he played a yellow 4 – just to piss Simon off. Simon didn’t seem to care this time around and played a yellow 6. Blair looked up at Megan as she hesitated for a moment. The Australian detective, who he called a friend and let call him Sandy, had a maniacal smile gracing her normally attractive features. She actually laughed as she played the Wild All Hit and called blue, then Uno.

The three men groaned. One by one the Uno machine faced their way. Jim was relatively lucky and only received one card, Blair got five, and Simon got eight. Blair laughed as the large man tried to control the slippery cards. Jim looked at Megan, the Wild All Hit card and his hand. Blair wasn’t sure what he was planning, it wasn’t as though he could give her any cards... unless.

Jim played a blue 2 and Blair’s hopes were dashed that he was able to trade hands with her. Course, trading hands with her would make him have Uno, which still didn’t help Blair. The observer didn’t procrastinate about his choice, just picked the first blue card, which happened to be a Skip. He skipped right over Simon to Megan, making her play the color she called. Blair was hoping she was trying to trick them into a color.

Blair watched, ignoring Simon’s rage of protest, and waited as Megan looked at her card, then the discard pile. And with a large smile, Megan discarded her red Skip card.

“No way!” Blair yelled and laughed at the same time. He was right about the color, but screwed it up with the card.

“Looks like the girl won this round fellas – better luck next time Sandy, nice try though.”

“I almost had you.” He said as he finished his beer. “Almost.”

Simon was still flabbergasted and was just putting his cards on the table. “I can’t believe you had a Skip card, that was just dumb luck.”

“Call it what you want – I call it winning.”

Jim shook his head and grinned in Megan’s direction. “Nice hand though.”

Blair stood and grabbed his empty bottle, heading toward the recycle bin. “Hey Sandburg, grab me another beer?”

Without thinking, Blair dumped his bottle and took one out for Jim. It wasn’t until he got back to the table and saw the three of them snickering that he realized he had waited on Jim. “Ugh, god dammit.” He said as he stomped toward the bathroom.

“On your way back Chief, get me some pretzels, ok?”

“Up yours Ellison!!” He called as the door slammed shut behind him, but Blair could still hear them laughing. He smiled and chastised himself that he would have to have a bit more control over his impulses next time.

 

 

Jim laughed and got up to retrieve the pretzels. He figured he was pushing his luck asking Sandburg for them again when he came back. The little shit would probably doctor them with a pinch of red pepper or something. He also fielded request for chips and salsa and the bag of M&Ms Megan had brought, dumping the bags and bowls on the table to be redistributed.

Sandburg came back, smelling of soap, plopped into his chair and happily availed himself of the chips and dip. “You’re welcome, Sandburg.”

Blair nodded and scooped another chip, “Yup, you did good. Couldn’t have done it better myself.” Leaning back, he popped the chip in as if the whole thing had been his idea in the first place. Jim just snorted and leaned across the table to hand the cards to Simon since it was his deal.

This was quickly accomplished and the cards distributed and put in the launcher. The first several hands progressed normally, with color shifting, assorted Skips and Reverses and a couple non-producing hits to the launch button. Jim eyed his remaining four cards and dropped a Wild Hit Fire on his partner with absolutely no remorse, calling for yellow.

With a resigned shrug and a smile Sandburg hit the button, once, twice and the third time finally produced results, spitting a whopping total of nine cards at his partner. With a disgusted sigh, he turned the machine to face Simon and began to corral the mess, leaning over to retrieve the one that had slid onto the floor. Subvocally however, he was murmuring things about Tabasco sauce and a sprinkle of sand in a sock drawer. As Blair looked up to discern the results of his threats, Jim just smiled at him, wide and innocent and as charming as he could make it. It stopped his partner mid-threat and left him staring as Jim turned to play a card.

Jim smothered a much more wicked grin with a scowl when he saw that far from the yellow he’d asked for the card staring up at him was definitely blue and not a number he had. He spun the machine towards himself and pressed the button. A whir and three cards were his immediate reward.

“You know that is SO not fair, right? Right? I mean three cards... I got nine!” Sandburg moaned as he plopped a blue 6 on the pile.

Simon grinned at him, playing a blue 8, “Didn’t your momma ever tell you life wasn’t fair?”

Blair snorted, “Yeah - but she also was a big believer in what goes around, comes around.” He leaned closer and waggled his eyebrows at the captain. Megan laughed and played a yellow 8, as Simon took a swipe at Sandburg’s shoulder. Blair leaned back in a fast dodge and avoided the blow. “Don’t touch the hair, man!”

“Hey hey!!! I’m the only one here allowed to abuse him!” Jim protested. He gathered up his new yellow Discard All and dropped that and his three yellow cards onto the pile, leaving him with two.

Blair pulled a card and played it while giving Jim a very emphatic raspberry noise. “Um Chief, what are you doing?”

The confused look on Sandburg’s face was comical as he contemplated the blue 8 he’d just dropped on the yellow Discard All. “Ummm... I have absolutely no idea.” He quickly snatched the card back and replaced it with a yellow 9. “I thought we were still on blue??” His statement was all innocence and that just made everyone laugh that much more.

Simon swung the machine around to face him and hit the button, gathering up his five cards with a stoic face. Megan played a red 9, and swung the machine to Jim. He just played a red 7 and swung it to Sandburg. “Uno.”

“No thanks, man,” was the emphatic response as he placed a red Hit 2 on the pile. “Sorry, Simon. The only red I had.”

Simon just grunted and swung the machine again. The second hit delivered another six cards leaving the captain with a huge handful. Megan, with a smirk played a blue Hit 2 and Jim survived the double press unencumbered, “Uno.”

Sandburg assembled four cards and stacked them together under a blue Discard All. Simon, with a smirk, played a blue Trade Hands and happily liberated a much reduced hand from Megan despite her caustic remarks. Taking a moment to peruse the pile and eyeing Jim’s like she could guess what it was from there, she paused and finally just Skipped him. Jim just shrugged, smiled and had another swig of beer. Blair dropped a blue 4, Simon a green 4 and Megan scowling at what had to be her lack of really damaging or delaying choices, finally played a small pile topped with a green Discard All.

Jim just grinned hugely at them all and played his final Wild Hit Fire. Everyone groaned and threw cards on the table with varying degrees of disgust and grins.

“Alright Ellison, that’s it, I’m leaving.” Simon stood, gathering his bottles and taking them to the kitchen. “Daryl’s coming over early tomorrow and we’re spending the day at the harbor carnival – festival, whatever. Anyway, this was fun, thanks.” He shrugged into his coat, “And remember, I’ve got LOTS of unpleasant work for you all come Monday to make up for my repeated defeats tonight.” Laughter trailed behind him as he let himself out.

Megan blinked a moment and rose too. “Yup, this was fun, Sandy, thanks. Let me know when you want to play again!” Jim stood and got her coat for her and with a final thank you, he saw her to the door.

The next several minutes were spent in silence as clean-up went into effect. Blair turned off and re-boxed the machine as Jim took care of trash and snacks in the kitchen.

“So - admit it. You had fun.” A grinning Blair was back from putting the game away. “Come on, you did. You liked it and they liked it. It was fun. Right? Right?” He was bouncing and slowly backing Jim into a corner in the kitchen

“Yeah Chief. It was fun. I enjoyed it. Everyone enjoyed it.” Jim scowled for effect. “Simon’s gonna make us pay for it though.”

“Nope, he isn’t and you know why?” Jim shrugged, the scowl turning into a confused frown. Sandburg’s grin became more intense, “Because he doesn’t pay me!!!”

Blair yelped as Jim’s big hand came down on top of his head, stopping the bouncing. “Um, Jim?” Jim changed his frown into a small evil grin and proceeded to ruffle his partner’s hair bigtime. He got the curls going straight up and a large section of it draped into his face before Blair managed to disengage Jim’s hands and bound out of reach.

He whined and complained as he tried to tame it again, the most intelligible being, “Aw MAN!!! Jeez Jim!! What was that for??”

“That Chief, was for buying the thing in the first place.”

Sandburg glared at him from under mostly tamed hair before his face brightened and with a beatific smile he said, “Yeah - well just wait and see what I buy next time. I’m thinking maybe...” He turned to head to his bedroom and looked over his shoulder, “...Twister. Good night, Jim.”

A bolt of horror ripped through him freezing him in the kitchen. “You were kidding right, Chief? Right? Kidding? Hey look, I’m sorry about the hair thing...”

“Chief????”

The laughter from behind the closed French doors was his only response.

~End~