Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Everyday Life Series

Summary: Jim, Blair, and a selection of food.
Author's note: Not designed to be read on an empty stomach. ~grin~

Delectable Sentinel
by Robyn
May 2000

~~~
It's about goldfish.
~~~

I lean back in my chair, dig into the small white paper bag and pull out a couple goldfish crackers, subsequently popping both into my mouth for munching. Bored, I survey the bullpen. It's pretty quiet at the moment, with the rest of the night crew keeping busy at their desks, hoping not to tempt fate during their late shifts. With Major Crime's record, we've all become a little superstitious. Headphone-adorned Brown is busy bee-bopping to himself at his desk. Rafe is typing something at his computer, blissfully unaware of the quirky smile on his face. Joel's leaned back in his chair, a pile of forms stacked on his desk, his mouth partially open, making soft snoring noises.

Last but not least, there's a certain anthropologist sitting next to me. Not wanting to disturb him nor be accused of staring (like I would ever do that), I content myself with unobtrusively watching Sandburg's reflection in the computer monitor, which has since switched several minutes ago to the standard black screensaver with a small moving Cascade PD logo on it. Blair's feet are propped up on a spare chair and he is crouched over a book, his eyes fixed on the page in rapt fascination. One of his hands is steadying the large tome, preventing it from sliding off his lap onto the floor. Without taking his eyes off the page, Blair reaches up with one hand, removes the yellow highlighter from behind his ear, pulls the cap off with his teeth and proceeds to highlight the appropriate phrases. He then recaps the pen (again with his teeth) without even coming close to highlighting his face or his teeth, and places it behind his ear again.

How does he do that?

"Stop staring at me, man," he says.

"Want some?" I offer Blair the bag, hoping to distract him.

He shakes his head, not looking up. "You really shouldn't be snacking this time of night."

I roll my eyes. "It's either goldfish or the package of Twinkies in the bottom drawer."

"You didn't say they were goldfish." Not interrupting his reading, Blair reaches out and grabs a handful, sniffing them briefly. "Good. These aren't the pizza-flavored ones. Those make your breath smell."

I grin.

Resuming my covert observation of my partner, I watch as he continues to read. Suddenly, his eyes widen. "Oh man, now this is really good!" He reaches for the highlighter before he realizes his hand is still full of goldfish crackers. After a split second pause, he crams the handful of crackers in his mouth at one time, wipes his hand on his pants, then seizes his highlighter, uncaps it with his teeth, marks the paragraph, then recaps the pen.

HOW DOES HE DO THAT????

"Stop staring at me, man," he repeats, his words muffled by the mouthful of crackers.

"Like you never stare at me?" I counter.

He swallows. "That's different. I'm supposed to observe you. It's my job."

"Hey, I'm just making sure you don't choke on the crackers."

Blair grunts. "I think you watch me for the amusement value."

"Have some more crackers, Sandburg."

Finally, he looks up at me, giving me a suspicious look with a little glare thrown in. Then he grins and shrugs. "Okay."

~~~
You should start by listening to the stomachs of others.
~~~

Lit only by the light hanging overhead, the kitchen is quiet except for the soft hum of the refrigerator. The early summer temperature in the loft feels pleasant, and city lights blink in the darkness through the balcony windows. The glowing blue-lighted clock on the microwave reads 10:31 p.m.

A young man with shoulder-length curly hair wearing a gray t-shirt, red plaid boxers, and reading glasses sits in one of the wooden chairs at the marble-topped dinner table. His face rests in the palm of one upturned hand, propped up by an elbow, with the other hand lightly touching the pages of the book open before him.

The sound of a chair being pulled across the wooden floor and someone settling into it causes Blair to look up from his book, and he smiles as he sees his friend lean forward in the chair next to his, resting both arms on the kitchen table and folding his hands in front of himself. "Oh, hey Jim," the anthropologist says. "I thought you were upstairs reading."

"I was," answers the handsome, taller man wearing a blue t-shirt and boxers. "Finished the book. And I thought you were going out tonight."

Blair shrugs. "Plans fell through. No biggie; I didn't feel like bowling tonight anyway. You know how your thumb kills afterwards?"

Jim nods. Mentally he acknowledges that Blair throws as many strikes bowling as he does pitching on the baseball field. The detective remembers the Saturday night just a few weeks after they'd partnered up together when the guys at Major Crimes found out the hard way how good he was. The kid loves to bowl.

Neither man says anything for a few moments, and Blair drops his eyes back to his book.

"What's wrong?" Jim says finally, breaking the silence.

Blair looks up, his expression surprised. "Wrong? What makes you think something's wrong?"

"You didn't eat dessert," says Jim simply, his blue eyes meeting his partner's.

"I was full, man, remember?" the anthropologist explains. "Way too much Ellison spaghetti tonight," he chuckles, patting his stomach. The laugh doesn't quite reach his eyes.

"You've been on that page ever since you opened that book a half hour ago, Chief."

"I've been contemplating the meaning of this particular paragraph," Blair answers, perhaps a little too quickly. "This chapter makes some pretty profound points about the effect of modernization on the Haida Nation."

"Uh-huh." Taking another glance at his partner, Jim shifts his gaze back to the table top. "Strawberry pie," he murmurs.

A confused look passes over the anthropologist's face. "Pie? What're you talking about?"

Jim shakes his head slightly, as though he hadn't realized he had spoke aloud. He turns back to Blair. "What's on your mind, Chief?" he says gently.

Blair swallows. "I don't know, man. I guess I'm just not ready for my vacation to end. It was a whole week and it was great, and I get to go back and teach some pretty awesome classes in the summer session next week. I don't know what's wrong, Jim. I love teaching and I love the kids and I love learning. I should be happy to go back! What's wrong with me?"

"There's nothing wrong with wanting a break, Chief. You have to work hard at school, even though you like it and you do a great job at it. Hell, you should be proud of all you do. I know I am. But you're human, Chief, and humans need breaks. Even humans seemingly related to the Energizer Bunny like you need breaks. They even like breaks. There's nothing wrong with that. No need to feel guilty," reassures the taller man.

"Thanks."

Jim continues, gesturing with his hands. "I know you, Sandburg. You'll go back to school, your students will adore you, those old geezer professors will be astounded by you, and your ole' partner will be proud as anything of you. And somehow you'll still find time to back me up and do my paperwork."

"Ha-ha, Jim." Blair tries to glare at his partner, but ends up grinning instead.

Jim grins back, reaching over with one arm around Blair's shoulders and giving it a brief squeeze. "See, I knew something was wrong when you didn't want any strawberry pie."

"Pretty good for a cop," Blair teases, closing his book and leaning back in his chair. "I guess I could eat a piece now. Did you get whipped cream on it?"

"Of course, Sandburg." Jim sounds injured as the two men get up from the table and make their way into the kitchen. "I know how to do some things right."

"Where'd you get the pie?" asks Blair, looking over his shoulder as he gets down a couple small plates and two forks. "That thing looks homemade."

"Some girl scouts were having a bake sale in front of Yum Yum Donuts. I had to get it. It was calling to me, 'Take me home, Sandburg wants me'," Jim imitates as he pulls the pie out of the refrigerator. "Sentinel hearing," he adds.

"Right, Jim," Blair laughs as he watches his friend cut two generous slices. "Man, that looks good." Enormous bright red strawberries topped with a light glaze and thick whipped cream over a light crust make attractive heaps on the plates.

"See? I know you. No matter how much you eat, you always have room for fresh strawberry pie."

"Yeah," Blair agrees, his eyes twinkling as he carries the plates to the table. "Just like you always have room for Yum Yum Donuts."

"Hey! It's not my fault they picked Yum Yum Donuts to have the bake sale at. I just had one chocolate-filled one - - just one, okay?. Oh, c'mon, Sandburg, don't give me that look!..."

~~~
Is it just me or is this the most delectable friendship in America?
~~~

Ever so carefully, I stretch the glistening plastic wrap over the laden circular glass platter, taking care not to disturb its almost-cool contents. Briefly, I wonder how long it will take for the two dozen Rice Krispies treats to disappear into the mouths of Cascade's finest. That is, if I can manage to get all two dozen to tomorrow's potluck without any abductions.

The door clicks and Jim walks in, discarding his light khaki jacket on the hook, his keys in the basket, his shoes by the door. He pauses, lifts his nose slightly, and his face takes on the eager look of a half-starved boy. "Hey," he greets me briefly. "Am I smelling what I think I am?"

I turn to face him, blocking his view of the vulnerable tray in a defensive gesture. Sniffing the air myself, I assume a desperately oblivious look. "Smell what? Smells like the good old loft to me."

Jim cranes his head, trying to see around me. "You made Rice Krispies treats for Simon's birthday party, didn't you?" He starts walking toward me. The look on his face is predatory. I think can hear his saliva glands activating, which is a scary thought in itself. Moments like these make me wish he had a different spirit guide.

I back up against the counter, shielding the marshmallow-smelling dessert squares with my body. When are they going to invent Sentinel-smell-proof plastic wrap? "Hey, hey, easy there," I say, keeping my voice low and pacifying. "The key words are Simon's birthday party. You don't get ANY of these until then, got it?"

Jim stops. He gives me a silly smile that almost looks innocent. "C'mon, Chief. They won't miss --"

"Ah-ah-ah," I interrupt. "I'll miss them, and trust me, I'll be doing treat counts every hour until I get these to the bullpen tomorrow."

"Aw Chief, just one?"

"No."

"What if I had a hard day?" he attempts.

"I said NO, Jim."

"But--"

"NO. Now turn around and go sit on the couch. I can see I'm going to have to take these to bed with me tonight, not to mention the bathroom tomorrow morning when I take a shower." I point toward the living room, the tone of my voice nonnegotiable.

The tall detective's shoulders sag just a little, and he looks defeated. His blue eyes look -- well, let's just say that for a tough cop, he can look pretty pathetic sometimes. I feel like the scum on the bottom of an ancient walking stick. However, I keep the look on my face firm, and Jim slowly turns and makes his way to the couch, collapsing on it and flipping on the TV.

I watch him for a few seconds longer until I'm convinced he's not going to get up right away. Then I silently open one of the cupboards below the kitchen island and pull out a small plate.

Plopping down on the couch beside him, I extend the plate toward him. "Here. I made a couple extra for you. I know better than to torture a sentinel by making his house smell like melted marshmallows and then not letting him have any."

Jim's eyes brighten, and his mouth widens into a huge grin. His teeth look especially white and he licks his lips. "I was beginning to think you had no sense of self-preservation." Grabbing a square, he bites into the crunchy, chewy mass. His eyes roll up into the back of his head and he moans in delight. If I didn't know better, I'd think he was having a seizure.

"It's not you I'm scared of. Simon made me swear I'd bring him two dozen Rice Krispy squares tomorrow."

Sir Richard Burton probably would have said the sentinel-guide thing was a form of self-preservation too -- tribal survival.

Much as I respect the man, he would've been wrong. This is much more than the holy grail of anthropology.

Jim gulps, stuffs the rest of the square in his mouth and licks his sticky fingers. <chew-chew-chew> "You mean to say you're more scared of Simon than me? What was that, an insult?"

~ The End ~