Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

Warnings: Look out, plenty of pure, unadulterated smarm ahead! Cute children and Jim and Blair in bedtime attire -- BYOB (bring your own [drool] bucket).

Downstairs with Uncle Jim
by Robyn
June 1998

"Uncle Blair." A small voice gently tried to nudge its way into the dreams of the young man who was sleeping so soundly amongst the covers of the guest room bed, but his deep, even breathing continued without interruption.

"Uncle Blair!" This time a small hand planted itself on the man's shoulder and delivered a series of small shoves. A deep inhale and a sigh rewarded the owner of the arm -- alas, the sleeping figure rolled from his back to his side and resumed the even breathing of his previously peaceful rest.

"Uncle Blairrrrr!" A slight whining quality had crept into the child's tone of voice, and this time the shoves were more pronounced, managing to actually shake the frame of the anthropologist.

"Wha?" Eyelids opened only to squinting size, the deep blue eyes beneath them still obviously fogged with sleepiness. They could barely make out the figure of a four-year-old pajama-clad little auburn-haired girl standing at the side of the bed directly in front of his face. The darkened unfamiliar room and decor disoriented him for a few seconds, but then he remembered where he was.

Somehow Blair managed to wake up enough muscles to pull himself to the sitting position. His comfortable gray tank-top and red plaid boxers were creased with scattered wrinkles where he'd been laying on them, and his hair -- well, the rumpled curls were as good as could be expected in the middle of the night.

"Uncle Blair -- Uncle Blair, I can't sleep." The little girl was speaking again now.

"Why not, Kimberly?" The eyelids had finally opened more widely.

"I didn't get a story. Mommy and Daddy always read me a story."

Blair had to smile at the girl in spite of himself. She knows I'm a sucker. Kids always know, he thought.

Jim and Blair were spending Sunday night on a baby-sitting assignment over at Jim's brother Steven's big house on the outskirts of Cascade. Earlier that morning they'd received a phone call at the loft. Steven's wife Anna had just received word that her mother had suddenly become ill, and she had to fly down to California. Steven couldn't get a flight back from Japan where he was on a business trip until Monday morning. Sally, the housekeeper for Jim and Steven's dad, often took care of Steven and Anna's two children, but she was also out of town on vacation as was old man Ellison himself -- he was off golfing somewhere with his buddies. Could Jim and Blair watch the kids till Steven could get back? Jim had hesitated initially, Blair remembered, but the detective-uncle soon gave in when he realized Anna was desperate.

And so it happened that Kimberly, just turned age four last week, and baby Nathan James Ellison, 3 months old, drove up in a minivan with their mother to spend the day with Uncle Jim and Uncle Blair. Megan had joined the four of them for a fun-filled but tiring day at the Cascade Zoo, while demonstrating helpful instruction on such essentials as diaper changing and how to burp the baby after feeding him. Luckily for the two partners, Kimberly and Nathan were well-behaved children, the opposite of child terrors. Nevertheless, a late spring day at the zoo had tired out the guide rather effectively and Blair had gone to bed shortly before 10 p.m., falling asleep rather quickly.

The little girl flung her arms and chest onto the bed next to where Blair was sitting. "Please, Uncle Blair? Please read me a story?"

Blair smiled again at the shadowy figure who was looking at him with pleading brown eyes. He noted her plaid pajamas. Must be an Ellison thing -- looking good in plaid, he thought. The little girl also had a stuffed animal, a bunny with long floppy ears, tucked firmly under one arm in a head lock. Definitely Ellison. "Okay, sweetie. I'll read you a story."

Kimberly's features immediately lit up. "Come with me, my book is downstairs," she explained. Without waiting for a response, she took his larger right hand with her little left one and made for the guest room's door. Blair followed obediently.

"Shhhh, we don't want to wake Uncle Jim up," Blair whispered as the two of them padded down the thickly carpeted hallway, quite a contrast to the loft's rugs and wood floor.

But as they rounded the corner to where the stairs descended from the second story into the house's family room, the sight that met Blair's eyes made him pause for a second or two.

The spacious family room was mostly dark, backlit by light from the adjoining kitchen. A small baby bottle sat on the counter almost empty of formula and a soft cloth for burping lay in a pile next to it. One of the family room's outside walls was made entirely of large windows designed to take advantage of the house's serendipitous spot on the inclining hills comprising the edge of Cascade proper. The vertical blinds were gathered to the sides, graciously allowing the windows to display a full gorgeous view of the night lights blinking across the city of Cascade.

There, silhouetted in front of the windows stood his friend Jim Ellison in typical sleepwear -- which for him was shirtless and clad in a pair of plaid boxers. Jim was facing away from Blair, looking out over the city -- his city, as he now called it. Cradled with strong arms against his bare muscled chest lay baby Nathan, eyes closed, stomach newly full, and a contented look on his face. A chubby cheek of soft baby skin and little clenched fists pressed themselves trustingly into the chest of his uncle, not knowing the man was the city's champion of those in need, a uniquely gifted warrior against evil. The baby seemed so small compared to the man who had become his temporary caregiver -- so vulnerable and so protected.

The figure of the sentinel holding a baby was dramatic and touching at the same time. It was the perfect combination of strength and sensitivity, of watchfulness and gentleness. It was the image of a man who embodied the Greco-Roman ideal of an athlete with the tenderness of one who knew the value of children and friendship. Something about the scene evoked feelings much more intense than the similar photographs Blair had seen in the mall poster store, and he felt his stomach go flip-flop with sheer emotion and warm-fuzzies as the pleasant feeling of pure admiration washed over him. How is it that I've come to know this man? he wondered. It's almost unreal. . .

A tug on the hem of Blair's boxers brought him back from his reverie. "My story's down there," she pointed, "with Uncle Jim."

"Yes, with Uncle Jim," Blair smiled, and they descended the rest of the stairs together.

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

Jim Ellison turned slowly and gracefully away from the large night-filled windows overlooking Cascade, unconsciously moving his big hand to support baby Nathan's head. He didn't really have to look toward the staircase to know his best friend and partner would soon be descending into the family room -- the special aura of the guide preceded him wherever he went. And it wasn't just the smell of his shampoo, the sound of his whispering, the rhythm of his walk, the animated facial expressions, or the beating of his heart, though Jim the sentinel noticed all of those things. It was more Blair's sheer zest for life, his altruistic philosophy towards others, his pure enthusiasm for knowledge, his unbreakable faithfulness and honesty as a friend.

Jim smiled at Blair. He was rewarded with a smile in return as deep blue eyes met lighter blue ones, mutually exchanging greetings of friendship and vows of fealty. Somehow the presence of his sleep-mussed buddy seemed to warm the room, illuminating it in a way no other person could. How does he do that?, wondered the detective. It's one of the mysteries of the universe.

Ellison watched as his partner and niece padded down the stairs, hand-in-hand, heading for the big soft couch in the middle of the room. After making sure he was seated in the proper spot, the girl finally released Blair's hand and proceeded to rummage purposefully through the wicker basket of books next to the couch. Without having to pause for consideration, she selected a picture book and handed it to Blair. Kimberly then plopped herself on Blair's lap, letting her legs string out on the couch and leaning her head against the guide's shoulder.

Jim found himself grinning in spite of himself when he saw the title of the book as Blair began to open it. Green Eggs and Ham.

The pages rustled as the younger man held the book out in front of himself and the little girl and opened its cover. Then the melodic voice of the anthropologist began to read the familiar words. Jim just stood there, feeling the calming, familiar tones of his guide gently penetrate and soothe his very soul. He closed his eyes and sighed contentedly to himself. I could get used to this bedtime story with Sandburg, he thought vaguely.

"I am Sam." [page rustling noise] "Sam I am," read the anthropologist.

Before he could stop himself, Ellison found himself reciting the next few lines from memory easily, even though he hadn't heard the story since he and Steven were little and Sally had read to them at night.

"That Sam-I-am! That Sam-I-am! I do not like that Sam-I-am!" declared Jim.

Jim could feel Blair and his niece looking up, surprised expressions on their faces, upon hearing his voice. He opened his eyes and saw the blue eyes of his friend dancing in delight and amusement. They both grinned at each other, and Kimberly grinned too. She didn't get this particular brand of entertainment from her usual bedtime stories, and she was enjoying every minute of it.

Blair decided to ham it up and assumed a distinguished British accent for the next line. "Do you like green eggs and ham?" he said in his most proper tone of voice.

"I do not like them, Sam-I-am. I do not like green eggs and ham," answered the detective correctly. Somehow the baby continued to sleep through all of this, so Jim decided to go sit on the couch on the other side of Blair. The picture of the four of them on the couch -- Jim holding the baby, Kimberly settled on Blair's lap, Blair reading from the Dr. Seuss book -- was sweeter than any of them realized.

As Blair continued to alternate as many accents as he could think of -- Aussie, lilt, twang, Brooklyn, Chicago gangster, even Indian -- with Jim doing the lines of Sam-I-am's protesting and grudging customer, the detective thought about the irony of the story as applied to his own life. Before one Blair Sandburg had entered his life, Ellison had been sure of what he did and didn't like, what he would and wouldn't do -- and wasn't about to let anyone tell him otherwise.

"A train! A train! Could you, would you, on a train?" This time an animated Scottish accent waited expectantly for the response.

"Not on a train! Not in a tree! Not in a car! Sam! Let me be!" 'Course, last time I tried something on a train I messed my senses up, Jim thought ruefully.

He shook his head. I was so stubborn. Well, I still am stubborn, he admitted to himself. It's a miracle you didn't give up on me, Chief. Somehow, before Ellison had even known what was happening to him, the young anthropologist had found a way into his heart and become his soul mate. Not only had Sandburg succeeded in getting him to try foods he'd never even heard of before; he'd succeeded in getting him to let someone into his life, someone he could trust with his deepest fears and joys.

"You do not like them. So you say. Try them! Try them! And you may. Try them and you may, I say," implored Blair, who had run out of accents and now spoke in his usual voice.

Jim recited the last lines of the book, instinctively closing his eyes and using sense memory to recall the words. As he spoke, Jim Ellison realized that just like the character in the book, he had finally listened to the wise counsel of his friend and the whisperings of his own heart to accept the gift of sentinel abilities and the responsibility to use them for good. And he knew if it hadn't been for Blair, none of that would have happened.

"I do so like green eggs and ham! Thank you, Thank you, Sam-I-am!" finished Jim quietly.

Jim opened his eyes. Kimberly had fallen asleep, head still pressed against Uncle Blair's shoulder, and of course baby Nathan was still sleeping. Jim looked over at Blair, whose heavy eyelids seemed to have finally succumbed to their weight. The book lay open on the last page in his lap. But just as Jim was about to get up off the couch and put Nathan to bed, the eyelids of his younger friend flickered. Jim looked at him questioningly.

"You're welcome," Blair smiled sleepily.

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

Having carried the two children upstairs and settled them in their own beds, Jim descended the stairs one last time to retrieve his sleeping partner. Amazingly Blair was still in the sitting position, his neck and hair draped over the back of the couch, the book still in his lap.

Picking the book up and tossing it into the basket, Jim reached his arm around his partner's waist and pulled him to a semi-standing position. "Come on, Sam-I-am. You're gonna get a serious crick in your neck if you sleep all night like that."

"Mmm-hmmm," murmured the anthropologist as the two of them stumbled toward the stairs, Jim still supporting Blair around the waist and one of Blair's arms loped lazily around Jim's waist in return, head resting trustingly against Jim's shoulder.

As the two friends comically ascended the stairs, Jim thought he heard Blair mumble something.

"What's that, Chief?"

"It's not fair," Blair said more clearly, though his eyes were still mostly shut.

"What's not fair, Sandburg?"

"The green eggs. You like anything with eggs."

Jim had to chuckle. "You know me too well, Chief. Too well."

- The End -

Extra disclaimer: Green Eggs and Ham was written by Dr. Seuss.