Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Humor

Summary: Jim and Blair set out to do a good deed, but they underestimate how hot it can get in Cascade. Minor reference to Cypher.

Robyn says: We've written another humor piece together. Translation: Be afraid, be very afraid. ~grin~
Becky says: Ditto. ~grin~ Though I do have to give credit to Robyn for most of this piece. I just pitched in a few lines that somehow developed into scenes here and there...

Mrs. Danbush's Hot Summer Day
by Robyn and Becky
June 2000

"I do declare, Cascade hasn't been this hot in AGES!"


"Uh-uh, I'm playing on Simon's team next time."

<wounded sounding> "Why? I thought we were a team!"

"Last time you called my drawing disgusting."

"I did not!"

"Did so! I drew a very artistic picture and all you could say was, 'That's disgusting.'"

"Sandburg, it looked like a Weeble wearing a G-string."

"It was a SUMO WRESTLER for crying out loud! And it was waaaay better than some of your drawings."

"Oh yeah? Like what?"

"All your animals look the same, man. When you draw a panther, it looks like an overweight Chihuahua with whiskers. If I were your spirit guide, I'd be offended."

"WHAT!?! That's ridiculous!"

<fishing through the trash can and pulling out a crumpled piece of paper> "Look at this yourself and you tell me!"

<uncrumpling paper and staring at it> "Well -- well -- welllllll..."

<ring-ring>

Blair shot a very smug smirk at his former Pictionary teammate before turning from the kitchen island to answer the phone. "Hello, this is Blair ... Oh hey, Brian ... Stomach flu? Oh man, I'm sorry. Jim and I had that last month and it wasn't fun. ... Your grandma's yard? Sure, Jim and I'd be glad to. We're free today. ... No problem, man. And make sure you get better before you come back to Anthro 101, you hear me?"

The taller man was looking at Blair suspiciously when the anthropologist hung up the phone. "And what did you just volunteer us for?"

Blair chuckled as he walked back over to the couch where his partner sat. "Nothing you can't handle, man. That was one of my students, Brian Danbush. He's sick as a dog with stomach flu and asked if we could help out and clean his grandmother's yard -- you know, mow the lawn, trim the bushes, that kind of thing. It isn't very big, so we should be able to get the whole thing done in just a few hours if we work together." He paused. "You do remember what a lawn is?"

Jim answered with a resounding whack on Blair's head with a convenient couch pillow. "Of course I remember what a lawn is! What kind of wimp do you think I am? My dad made sure Steven and I knew the art of proper lawn care before we were barely out of diapers, Sandburg." Jim's face took on a slightly dreamy look. "Sally used to bring us the best lemonade..."

"Then c'mon, Mr. Miracle Grow," Blair said, giving Jim a friendly slap on the back to bring him out of his reverie. "Put on an old shirt and jeans and let's get going. We should get this done before it gets too much later. It's going to be hot today." With that, the anthropologist bounced off to his own room to change clothes, leaving Jim standing next to the couch with his mouth open.

************************

On the way over to Cascade's north side where Mrs. Danbush lived, Blair regaled Jim with the tale of "Mrs. Danbush's Tree" and other fine anecdotes about the kindly woman who used to babysit him as a youngster. From what Jim could tell, life as young Blair had been quite an adventure, unknowingly foreshadowing his even more adventurous adulthood. His mouth twitched as Blair spun the tale of the tree which involved a model airplane, a too-thin branch, and an abrupt descent to the ground for both the plane and Blair.

Apparently that wasn't the only trip Mrs. Danbush had made with Blair to the emergency room.

Arriving in the quiet residential neighborhood, Blair pointed out the appropriate house and Jim obediently pulled the blue and white pickup to a stop in front of 445 Covington Lane. Pausing in the truck for a moment after Blair had exited, Jim considered the residence he and Blair were going to tidy. The white house was older but in good condition, with a porch in front equipped with an old-fashioned bench swing. A flowerbed with a few rosebushes and large Oleanders bordered the lawn on the left, and stepping stones formed a winding path leading to the porch steps. The grass looked slightly overgrown but fairly free of weeds to the sentinel's scrutinizing eye. Last but not least, the infamous tree occupied an area near the middle of the yard, its spreading branches providing welcome shade in the summertime.

Reaching down to the seat beside him, Jim grabbed his Jags hat and situated it on his head before exiting the vehicle. This yard would be a piece of cake. They might even have time to catch the last of the baseball game.

************************

<knock-knock>

Mrs. Danbush looked up from the latest LaVyrle Spencer novel, peering over silver horn-rimmed glasses through the lace-curtained front window. Reaching for her cane, she smiled to herself as she slowly made her way to the door. She didn't get too many visitors outside of family these days and she had been so pleased when her grandson had called to tell her Blair Sandburg and his friend would be coming by to take care of the lawn that afternoon. It had been years since she'd seen the young man, but she remembered that Blair had been such a cutie. Mischievous and gifted, but still a such cutie.

Slowly opening the creaky screen door, Mrs. Danbush was unprepared for the sight that met her eyes. In fact, she was so surprised that for a moment, she simply stood there. Staring.

"Hi Mrs. Danbush! Remember me? Blair Sandburg. Brian called..."

"Blair!" interrupted the 87-year-old woman, finally recovered from her speechlessness. "Of course I remember you! My, how you've grown...into such a handsome, strapping young man!" She reached up and pinched the cheek of the sheepishly grinning anthropologist. "And you grew your hair out. You always had such beautiful hair." Her eyes shifted behind Blair. "And who is this fine young man you brought with you?"

By then, Jim had joined Blair on the porch, a polite smile pasted on his face.

Blair hurried to make introductions. "Jim, this is Mrs. Elizabeth Danbush. Mrs. Danbush, I'd like you to meet my good friend, Jim Ellison." Blair smiled meaningfully at Jim. "He volunteered to help me with your lawn."

"Pleased to meet you, ma'am," said the detective as he shook her hand.

"I always like a man with strong hands," said Mrs. Danbush as she beamed up at Jim. "My dear George, God rest his soul, had strong hands." Still grasping Jim's hand, she deliberately traced the outline of his bicep and forearm with a wrinkled finger. "And you, my young man, obviously have more than just strong hands."

Carefully disengaging his hand from Mrs. Danbush's grip, Jim cleared his throat nervously. "We, uh, we'd better get started on the lawn before it gets too..." he hesitated, then finished weakly, "...hot." Grabbing Blair's arm, he hauled his snickering partner away from the door. "Come on, Sandburg..."

Mrs. Danbush sighed as she watched the equally beauteous rear view of the two men, then stifled a girlish giggle as she heard Blair's laughing comment to Jim.

"Too hot? I cannot believe you said that..."

Her morning was going to be better than she'd thought.

A lot better.

************************

The loud clanking of metal emanated from the dark, dusty garage as Jim and Blair proceeded to get Mrs. Danbush's old lawn mower and a selection of other yard tools out from the cobwebby corners of the little-used storage area. Meanwhile, Mrs. Danbush had settled herself on the porch swing where she had a good view of the entire yard, citing the need to get a little summer warmth into her brittle bones. She had brought her romance novel with her, but truth be told, she had little intention of reading while her visitors were within visual range.

The elderly woman watched as -- what was his name -- ah yes, James -- muscled the heavy lawn mower across the sidewalk and onto the grass, his muscled arms bulging through the rolled up sleeves on his short-sleeved shirt. Blair, hair tied back into a neat ponytail, was busy connecting the edger to the extension cord running from an electrical outlet in the garage. She noticed that the younger man called out from time to time to his friend as the two chuckled and laughed at some joke. Their entertaining camaraderie only served to enhance their physical attributes.

Currently, Mrs. Danbush's one regret was that her best friend, Gertrude MacKenzie, was not here to share this fine morning with. Fortunately, she thought, that can be easily remedied. Picking up the portable phone she had fortuitously brought out with her, she dialed the number.

<ring-ring-ring>

"Hello?"

"Gertie! This is Betty," whispered Mrs. Danbush.

"Oh my, Betty, how nice of you t' call. How is ev'rythang?"

"Things could not be more wonderful!" gushed Mrs. Danbush. "I have two positively delicious young men cleaning my yard right now! One of the boys I used to babysit, but he's all grown up now with the most charming looks and personality. And his friend -- oh MY. I haven't seen such a vision of masculinity since George passed on, God rest his soul. Their names are Blair Sandburg and Jim Ellison."

"Oh, yes, THEM!" exclaimed Mrs. MacKenzie. "You would not b'lieve this, Betty, but those two handsome boys live in my apartment building. They are the most courteous gentlemen, those two. Help me carry my groceries whenever they see me."

"But have you noticed how good-looking -- Oh. My. Stars. He's going to take off his shirt!" Mrs. Danbush leaned forward excitedly, her eyes wide.

"WHICH ONE?"

"The tall one, dear. He's wiping his forehead and glistening arms with it! Now Blair's coming over and he's pulling out a tube of sunscreen and giving it to his friend -- what WAS his name? And he's rubbing it all over his magnificent muscles and shining face! With a body like sculpted marble, this Adonis looks as if he stepped off the cover of one of my romance novels!"

<sound of knitting needles dropping to the floor> "I do dee-clare I'm havin' palpitations! Just the ver-rah thought of such a sight!" exclaimed Mrs. MacKenzie. "And his name is James, Betty. James -- like James Dean."

"James -- ah yes, James," said Mrs. Danbush dreamily. "He looks so much like a James!"

"You should just bless your lucky stars, Betty. I've nevah seen the boys cut grass b'fore. This is makin' me wish we had a lawn at 852 Prospect! What are they doin' now?"

"James has finished mowing and Blair's finished edging. They're standing under the tree taking a break. Oh-oh-oh! James has untucked his tanktop and he's -- he's -- oh what IS that called? You know, pulling his shirt back and forth to cool himself off. I do believe I see glimpses of a very FINE washboard stomach, Gertrude!" Seizing her book, Mrs. Danbush fanned herself with the novel. "I do declare, Cascade hasn't been this hot in AGES!"

************************

Joining Blair beneath the tree and leaning against its trunk, Jim gulped down the last swallows from his water bottle and shook the few drops that were left onto his head. Unusual for a Washington coastal city, the day had heated up faster than he and Blair had anticipated. And to add insult upon insult, he had no more bottled water left.

"Guess you'll have to drink from the hose," Blair teased as though reading his mind.

"More like I'll be confiscating your water bottle and making you drink from the hose, Sandburg," Jim retorted. He looked back at the porch where Mrs. Danbush was sitting, talking excitedly into her phone. Come to think of it, she had been talking excitedly into her phone for quite some time now. As was his practice, he had purposely avoided eavesdropping, but he couldn't help but hear his and Blair's names being mentioned frequently.

Mrs. Danbush looked up, catching his eye, and waved her free hand at him, wiggling her fingers in the air. Jim forced himself to wave back politely before looking away.

Beside him, Blair chortled.

"Sandburg, exactly how much do you know about Mrs. Danbush?"

"She's a upstanding member of the community, Jim. Was happily married to Mr. Danbush for 65 years before he passed on. Has four kids and ten grandkids. She volunteers at the local soup kitchen. She was even nominated for Grandmother of the Year a few years back," said Blair as he took a swig of water.

"Then why do I feel like I'm being undressed every time she looks at me?"

Blair choked on his water, but managed to swallow without incident. He slapped Jim on the arm. "It's all in your imagination, man," he said as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "After all, she helped raise me."

"And that's supposed to make me feel better?"

Rolling his eyes, Blair said, "You really do want to drink from that hose, don't you?"

"Boys! Oh boys...would you like some lemonade?"

Both turned to see Mrs. Danbush standing on the porch setting a tray onto the small table, a beckoning smile on her face.

Jim paused a moment, then shoved Blair in front of him as they walked to the porch. "Your turn to be on the front line, Sandburg."

"Oh, come on, Jim, you act like you're heading to the gallows or something."

Grunting, Jim muttered under his breath and gave Blair another 'helpful' nudge. "Or something."

************************

The sweaty men subsequently arrived on the porch and took the frosty glasses Mrs. Danbush offered them. She watched as they downed the cool liquid. Blair drank his in one long gulp, then set the glass down with a thud, smacking his lips and saying "Ahhh!!!" He then rewarded her with a brilliant smile.

Jim, on the other hand, took one sip and desperately attempted to hide the resultant pucker that formed on his lips. However, he proceeded to swallow the rest of the lemonade quickly and wheezed, "thank you."

Mrs. Danbush beamed at both men. "I like my lemonade good and sour. Puts a little zing in your senses, don't you think?"

"You could say that," gasped Jim, hoping desperately that his grimace looked half-way like a smile.

"Feel free to use the garden hose if you need to cool off, boys," Mrs. Danbush said. She winked at Jim.

After thanking the lady for their sour refreshment, the two men turned and walked back out to the yard. Jim headed straight for the hose and tried to ignore Blair's snickering. "Shut up, Sandburg. My salivary glands are in spasm, okay?!?"

Blair laughed again. "You did a pretty good job of not puckering."

Jim glowered at his partner before taking a drink from the garden hose. "That was because I didn't want her to take it as an invitation!"

************************

Trimming the bushes was the last major task left to be done. Braving the cobwebby garage again, they located two tools for bush trimming. One was a standard set of steel clippers that reminded Blair of a really large pair of scissors. The other was a large electric bush trimmer, painted red and labeled with the name "Excalibur" in large yellow letters. Bobbing his eyebrows, the anthropologist seized the latter implement and shot a cocky grin at Jim. "Hey, Jim, how 'bout I give this a go?"

Jim snorted and plucked the trimmer from his hands and put it away on the shelf. "Not today, Sir Lancelot. We're gonna do this the old-fashioned way." He lifted the steel shears and demonstrated once, snapping them loudly in the air. "We could even do your hair while we're at it."

Blair pursed his lips in apparent thought, then shook his head. "Um...no. Besides," he grinned. "Mrs. Danbush said I had 'beautiful' hair. I wouldn't want to disappoint her by cutting it off. And that's King Arthur, not Lancelot."

Rolling his eyes, Jim snatched a nearby broom and shoved it into Blair's hands. "Here, you sweep up the sidewalk, Your Majesty, while I do the bushes. And then we're outta here before I accidentally flex and Mrs. Danbush ends up needing a nitro pill."

************************

"Yoo hoo! Oh boyyyyyyys, YOO HOOOOOO...!"

Jim groaned, pulling to a stand after being bent over the bushes while trimming them and not wanting to look back at the porch where that woman was beckoning. "I'm not sure what hurts worse -- my back or my ears," he groused. He stole a glance at Mrs. Danbush and was rewarded with a come-hither look he found disturbing.

Walking over to Jim, broom in hand, Blair nudged his friend. "I think she wants us to drink more lemonade," he reported, while waving and smiling at Mrs. Danbush who was gesturing toward a fresh tray of full glasses.

"No way I'm drinking any more of that battery acid," muttered Jim.

"SHHH! She might hear you!" hissed Blair. "You'll hurt her feelings. And besides, that really is good lemonade. She doesn't know you're so sensitive."

"Thanks, but I'm fine, Mrs. Danbush," Jim called loudly. Turning back to Blair, he said, "I'm about done here. You go take a break and get your lemonade, Sandburg. I'll go hang out under the tree and pretend I'm picking weeds until you're ready to go."

"Chicken."

"Cluck-cluck," replied the taller man. With that, he set out for the safety of Mrs. Danbush's tree.

Shaking his head slightly as he watched the taller man retreat, Blair quickly joined Mrs. Danbush on the porch and grabbed a tall glass of the cool, pale yellow drink. Just as he was raising it to his lips, he heard a yelp from the direction of the tree.

"YIKES!"

<spshhh-spshhh-spshhh... spch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch....>

The detective stood in the middle of the lawn, a horrified look on his face as black plastic sprinkler heads popped up across the lawn. All of them began spewing water in his direction. Within seconds, Jim's jeans were soaked with the pelting water, followed immediately by his tank-top and face.

Blair roared as he watched his partner hopping up and down and sideways in some bizarre version of a rain dance, futilely trying to avoid getting wetter.

It wasn't working.

When Jim accidentally turned and got sprayed in the face with a perfectly timed jet, the dance got even wilder as he blindly made for the edge of the lawn. "SANDBURG! SANDBURG, HELP ME!!!" Jim yelled, but Blair was too busy howling to be able to answer him.

"Oh dear!" Mrs. Danbush tittered as she watched the detective hopping up and down. "I just plain forgot that the sprinklers come on at this time of day. But my, that drenching certainly shows off his chiseled chest, doesn't it, Blair? The way his white tank top is sticking -- "

"Whatever you say, Mrs. Danbush," Blair choked as he wiped his eyes.

The older woman's voice took on a dreamy sound. "So tell me, Blair, does James have a lady?"

"James?" Blair stalled on the name, stuttering when he recovered. "Uh -- uhm -- no, I don't believe he does."

Mrs. Danbush's eyes brightened and she tapped her cheek with one finger. "Hmm..."

At that moment, the detective in question came squishing up to the porch, leaving a generous trail of water droplets wherever he stepped. "Thanks for the warning, Sandburg," he muttered, leaning toward his partner's ear as he attempted to wring out his tank top.

"Hey, I didn't know that was coming, man. I was just drinking my lemonade," snickered Blair. "At least you cooled off, right?"

"Oh, don't blame him, James," interrupted Mrs. Danbush. "It was entirely my fault. All this..." she paused, "... heat -- and I just plain forgot about the sprinklers! Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?"

Jim smiled stiffly. "Don't worry about it, ma'am. As Blair said, I'm a lot cooler now than I was before."

"Why thank you, James. Did I mention my late husband George's middle name -- God rest his soul -- was James? Now let's get you out of those wet clothes or you'll catch your death of cold. Let me get you a nice fluffy towel --"

"NO! I mean, no thank you, ma'am," Jim said hurriedly. "I don't think I could catch cold right now even if I wanted to, and I think my clothes will dry off just fine by themselves, considering how -- hot -- it is..." he finished lamely. "I think we're done here, Chief, wouldn't you say?" Jim said, glaring meaningfully at Blair.

"Uh, yeah, I think we are," said Blair.

"You mean you won't stay for lunch?" Mrs. Danbush pouted.

Jim elbowed his partner.

"Perhaps another time," said Blair, stifling a chuckle. "We, uh, have some things to do back at the loft."

"Oh," Mrs. Danbush said, her face crestfallen. Then she brightened. "Maybe next time?"

"Maybe next time," answered Blair. "Thank you for the lemonade."

Jim felt an unsubtle thump on his back. "Uh, yeah, uh, thanks."

"And thank you for all your hard work," the older woman said warmly. "Come again soon, now."

As the two men walked across the lawn to their truck, Mrs. Danbush overheard part of their conversation.

"You're gonna sit in the truck with those wet pants? You never let me sit in the truck with wet pants."

"Shut up, Sandburg."

The older woman waved fondly as the blue and white pickup drove away, then turned and reached for the phone. She suddenly had the urge to go apartment hunting, and she intended to start by asking Mrs. MacKenzie if she knew of any available apartments at 852 Prospect.

************************

Once again safely in the truck and on their way back to the loft, Jim breathed an inward sigh of relief, glad that the day's adventure was behind them. His sole consolation was that no one besides Blair had been there to witness it. Maybe he could survive with his reputation intact...

"At least she doesn't know where we live," he murmured, aware a moment later that he'd spoken aloud.

An odd silence followed his statement, then,

"Uh..."

"Right, Sandburg?"

"Did I mention that she's friends with Mrs. MacKenzie?"

"Mrs. MacKenize? Our Mrs. MacKenzie?" Jim growled. "Sandburg..."

"Oh, come on, she's an old lady. So what if she was..." Blair chuckled, "admiring you a little. What's the harm in that?"

"Admiring?!? Chief, I know a leer when I see one. Trust me." He paused to navigate a turn in the road and continued in a forced calm tone. "I hope you have your last will and testament in order..."

Blair laughed. "My what?"

Ignoring Blair's interruption, Jim went on. "...because I am going to kill you." He paused and added in a menacing tone as he glared at his partner across the truck cab. "Slowly. And very, very painfully."

The younger man didn't say anything for a long time, then finally broke the silence. "Hey Jim." His lips twitched in amusement. "Maybe Mrs. Danbush and Mrs. MacKenzie play Pictionary."

"SANDBURG!!!! You wouldn't!?!?!..."

~The End~