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

Summary: During a test day at an outside market, Jim buys something for the loft.

Spoilers: mention of Survival and a, uh, clothing reference from Light My Fire.

Hats and Fishhooks
by Becky
July 1997

"You want to tell me again why we're here, Chief?"

Craning his head to look around the people streaming on both sides of him, Blair replied in a distracted voice, "I told you already, Jim."

Jim winced away from a yelling teenage girl arguing with an older woman he assumed was her mother. "Well, tell me again anyway. Why do I let you talk me into these things? I could be at home, watching the game, fixing the leaky kitchen faucet, anything other than ... this." He waved a hand at the vendors and people and junk surrounding them.

Blair sighed and went on. "We're here because I want to test what your senses do when there is so many different stimuli in evidence. A large outdoor flea market is the perfect place. Colors, sounds, smells, you know. I want to see how well you can sort out the various sensory impressions. Now, c'mon, I've been nice. Haven't bugged you for weeks about a test session. And we're not even in the laboratory. You owe me."

Jim muttered under his breath, grumbling, but didn't say anything to protest Blair's statement. He rubbed one hand across his forehead. "All right, all right, I owe you." As his partner's smile became a triumphant grin, Jim temporized, "But, only for an hour. Any longer, I'll have a headache and neither one of us will be happy."

Blair nodded. "Deal. An hour it is. Let's walk a little bit first, let your senses settle down and get used to the level of intensity, then we'll start with sight. This is gonna be great, Jim!"

Jim trailed along behind his partner, shaking his head, one side of his mouth tugging up into an amused and affectionate half-smile. Great, he says. By whose definition? He did owe Blair some testing. Actually, Jim felt that he owed his partner a whole lot more than tests, considering how well he was able to keep up during the chase to save Simon from Quinn. Attacked, shot, nearly suffocated by smoke, and near death more than once.

But as always, Blair survived everything and kept going. Jim had to wonder sometimes just why Blair stuck around with him. A cop's life was dangerous -- too dangerous, especially for someone not trained to be a cop. But as much as Jim wanted to keep his friend safe, he also wouldn't want to not have Blair with him while on the job -- and off. They were a team and Jim didn't want that to change.

Jim watched as Blair stopped to look at something at a table. Someone walking behind him bumped him, making his leg contact with the edge of the hard table. Wincing only slightly, Blair smiled in acknowledgment of the apology, then continued to leaf through the stuff scattered across the top of the table.

Blair had barely taken any time to recover before he started back at work at the University. Classes and papers wouldn't wait. He was still limping slightly, but not letting it slow him down much, of course. Jim had to smile at Blair's enthusiasm for life. At the least, the limp is earning him sympathetic glances from several pretty coeds.

Jim caught up with Blair in a few long strides, laying a hand on his shoulder, noticing that his partner was rubbing at his leg with one hand. He said quietly, "You okay, Sandburg?"

Blair looked up. "Hmm? Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Just startled me, really. You ready?"

So much for distraction. He nodded, pulling his partner away from the table. "Yeah, I'm ready. Sight first, right?"

Blair pointed to a spot off the main path where there was a cluster of tables and small places serving food. "Yeah. Let's sit down first so I can keep track of what you say."

They made themselves comfortable, using the noise and mass hordes of people to cover their quiet conversation. Blair settled his backpack on the small table top and pulled out his ever-present notebook. He turned to a clean sheet, wrote the date, then smiled over at Jim.

"All right. I want you to focus at the tables at the other end of the market. Tell me if you what you see and if you can read any words, prices, titles of books, etc."

Jim forced away a heavy sigh and turned his attention to the testing, slowly opening his vision and turning down the dials on his other senses so he can focus better. The faster I do this, the faster I can get out of here. Maybe I can still catch the last half of the game.

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

An hour later, tests finished, the two men strolled slowly through the crowds of people toward the exit and the safety of Jim's truck. Or at least they were trying to. Blair kept stopping to look at this, that, and the other thing. Since a headache hadn't appeared during or after the testing, Jim was still feeling in a benevolent mood and let the younger man take his time.

As Blair was sorting through a stack of clothes that looked remarkably similar to the stuff that he normally wore, something caught Jim's eye a few tables down. After a quick glance at Sandburg, Jim walked in that direction, knowing that his internal sensor marked Blair would tell him if his partner moved too far away from him.

The table in question was filled with fishing gear of all sorts, most of it pretty old and used. With a careful finger, he rifled through a pile of hooks, silently mourning the fact that he hasn't been able to get in any good fishing lately. Maybe in a few weeks, things would calm down long enough for he and Blair to get some down time. He threw a look to where he'd left his partner -- still there, talking animatedly, gesturing with his hands. He chuckled softly to himself. I still want to see how Hiawatha there planned to use that spear of his to catch fish. Entertaining to say the least.

As he straightened, something tacked to the side of the old pickup truck parked behind the table snagged his attention. He blinked, making sure he was seeing correctly. Oh, man, the memories that brings back. I wonder....? He cleared his throat once, leaning forward to speak to the vendor. "Hey, is that thing for sale?"

The vendor, an old grizzled man, squinted at him, then turned back to look at his truck. "You mean, my truck?"

"No, the poster."

"Ayup, it is. You want it?"

"How much?"

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

Rolled purchase in hand, Jim edged his way back to the clothes vendor to collect his partner. Not seeing him at first, but knowing he has to be around somewhere, he asked the teenage girl manning the cash drawer, "Did you see where my friend went? About this tall, blue eyes, dark curly hair, limping a bit?"

The girl nodded and pointed toward the back of the large canopied area. "Back there, sir."

He smiled. "Thank you." He directed his hearing inside and found Blair in a back corner, laughing softly to himself. Jim maneuvered around other customers in the tight space and made his way to the back where he found Blair trying on various hats -- or what he guessed were supposed to be hats.

He tapped Blair on the shoulder. "Hey, Chief. You ready to go?"

Blair startled a little, caught in mid-laugh, then turned slightly. "Oh, hi, Jim, what do you think about the hat?"

Jim eyed the ... hat ... with trepidation. Most times Blair's taste in fashion, while maybe a little different to fit in at the station, was okay. Other times, his tastes were just plain strange, but Jim just accepted them as part of Blair's unique personality. However, every now and then, Blair would pull something out that would just totally throw Jim and he didn't know what to think.

This was one of those times. The hat was .... well, it was indescribable really. In any case, it was atrocious. He said the first thing that came to mind. "What do I think? I'm trying not to think about what's been living in that thing."

"Jim!"

Biting down on the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling too much, he continued in a deadpan voice. "Chief, you know that fur hat of yours, the one with the earflaps?"

Blair's voice was suspicious. "Yeah?"

Jim lifted one hand and tapped at Blair's cheek lightly. "Well, I'd suggest you stick with it. It's an improvement over this one."

Blair just stared at him a moment, then turned to look at himself in the mirror again, saying after a moment, "You know, you're probably right."

Jim plucked the wannabe hat from his partner's head and shoved it back on the shelf. "Course I'm right, Sandburg. Now, are you ready to go?" He gestured toward the front of the tent with the other hand -- the one holding the rolled-up poster.

Before Jim could take a step, Blair said, "Hey, what's that?"

"A poster, Chief."

Blair sighed dramatically. "I can see that much, Jim. What is the poster of?"

Jim unrolled the poster to let Blair look at it. Blair cocked his head, studying it. Red Heron Fishhooks? "Uh, Jim, what are you planning to do with that?"

The detective looked at the poster, eyeing it. "I'm not sure really. I thought maybe I'd hang in on the back of the door. It's been taking a lot of abuse lately and rather than get it fixed, I thought I'd cover it up with the poster." He moved his eyes to meet Blair's. "What, you don't like it?"

Blair shrugged. "I don't know. It's ... different. Okay, I guess. But if you wanted a poster for the back of the door though, I know some great ...."

Jim held up a hand. "Stop right there, Sandburg. That is still my loft, remember? I want some say in the decor of the place. I think we've got enough tribal gods on the shelves and counter tops and new age pictures on the walls."

Blair conceded, "Okay, okay, Jim. It's your loft. You want the poster on the door, fine by me."

Jim rolled the poster back up, nodding once. "Good. Now that that's settled, can we please go? I want to catch the end of the game if possible."

Blair motioned for Jim to take the lead out of the tent and soon enough they are back out in the walkway and heading for the exit. On their way through the parking lot, Blair finally asked the question that the poster raised.

"So, Jim, you gonna tell me what the story is with the poster?"

Jim threw Blair a sideways look. "Story?"

"Yeah, like why did you buy it, man? What's so special about it? I mean, it's not something I would've thought you would want as wall decor."

Jim was quiet for several moments, then a small smile quirked up his lips. "Growing up there was this bunch of guys I'd go fishing with sometimes, just to, you know, get away from the house for awhile. The Red Heron fishhooks were our lucky hooks. Caught a lot of big fish with them. Just memories, Sandburg, that's all."

Blair nodded, prodding just a bit more for clarification. "But good memories, right, Jim?"

"Yeah, Chief, good memories."

- The End -