Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Holiday stories

Summary: Response to the 1999 CascadeTimes Thanksgiving Challenge. Again, I'm borrowing the family Robyn created for Steven.

I can't believe I'm actually answering one of these challenges...I think I must be desperate to write something other than the "epic." ~grin~ Robyn keeps telling me I can bring in the bus (as in "then they got hit by a bus, the end"), but I have the distinct feeling I'd be hunted down and chained to my desk chair until I finished the story.....

Story challenge had to include a pumpkin pie, a duck (the quack-quack living variety), snow, a vroom-vroom truck chase, the furry Fargo hat from Light My Fire, Pampers, and some minor owies.

Hearth
by Becky
November1999

Blair clutched the boxed pumpkin pie closer to himself as they rounded the corner, tires fishtailing slightly on the wet streets. He swallowed hard and gripped the hand-hold above the passenger side a little more tightly, resisting the urge to close his eyes.

Only the two of us would end up chasing a bad guy on Thanksgiving afternoon. And on our way to the family get-together to boot!

The windshield wipers came on momentarily as they passed under large trees that dropped a load of snow on them. The driver -- Jim, of course -- growled in annoyance and leaned forward to squint through the windshield.

Up ahead, Blair saw the car they were chasing careen another corner. The truck speed increased just a bit and Blair reminded himself again that Jim surely had taken pursuit courses in the Academy and knew just how far he could push the truck and still be safe. He hoped. And prayed. And prayed again just to be safe.

They rounded the corner, spinning out and jerking sideways as Jim regained control of the truck. Blair's head smacked into the truck frame for the third time since the chase began. "OW! Jim! Watch it."

"Sorry, Chief." Another second and they were off again, heading toward the end of the street -- which Blair noted as they passed a yellow sign -- was a dead-end. "You okay?"

"Yeah, yeah. No permanent damage done. I am, however, seriously beginning to think I need to get a crash helmut to wear whenever I'm in the truck with you."

"I'll buy you one for Christmas." Jim's attention remained on the street even as his lips twitched slightly in amusement.

"Gee, thanks. Let's just hurry up and get this creep." Blair chanced a quick look at his watch. "Ah, man, we're gonna be late."

Jim said drily as they sped down the road, "I'm sure Steven will forgive us, Sandburg."

"He won't if the pie gets smashed." Sirens echoed and Blair twisted in his seat to see two cop cars coming up behind them. "'Bout time they got here."

In a manner of minutes, the bad guy was arrested and handed off to the patrol officers to take back to the station. Blair remained inside the truck, with the heat on, ostensibly to keep the pie warm. As he waited, he rubbed the side of his head, wincing as his fingers encountered the bump. Man, that smarts. I'll have to ask Anna for some aspirin or maybe some of that tea I gave her last month. In the meantime, maybe some additional protection is warranted...just in case.

Setting the pie box aside, he shifted to reach behind the seats. After a few moments of searching, he brought his hand back up, treasure in hand -- his "Fargo" hat. He'd taken to leaving it in the truck so he could use in on stakeouts. For several months, the first thing Jim would do whenever Blair put it on was laugh. It had taken a while, but Blair thought Jim was finally used to it. More or less.

After the two patrol cars took off, Jim hopped back inside truck. "Brr. It's getting a little nippy out there." He rubbed his bare hands together to warm them. A grin stretched his lips as he saw the hat.

Blair just stared at him. "Getting a little nippy? Nippy? Jim, man, it's snowing! How often does it snow in Cascade? Much less in November." He yanked on the hat and tied it, shaking his head sadly. "Nippy, he says." Carefully resettling the boxed pie in his lap, Blair looked over at his unashamedly grinning partner.

Jim chuckled and put the truck in gear. "It's not snowing that much, Chief. And it's not that cold." He ignored the resulting eye roll and turn the truck around to take them back in the direction of Steven's house, where his brother's family and their father waited. Steven had insisted that they have Thanksgiving at his place as Sally was spending the holiday with her family. Naomi had been invited to attend as well, but she was across country visiting friends and hadn't been able to get a flight back.

Time passed quickly as drove through the streets of Cascade to reach the outskirts where Steven's house was located. Moments after they pulled into the long, curving drive and parked behind William's car, the front door opened from within and a little girl nearly flew down the steps to greet them, uncaring of the cold temperature and light covering of snow on the ground.

"Uncle Jim! Uncle Blair!"

Blair exited the truck and gave Kimberly a quick hug before gathering up the pie box, leaving the two bags behind the seats to Jim. "Hi, sweetie."

Kimberly giggled, pointing at his hat. "That's a funny hat."

Behind him, he heard Jim laughing, but he ignored it. Instead, Blair deftly untied the hat with one hand and pulled it off. He then dropped it onto Kimberly's head, chuckling as it sank down to cover her eyes. She tipped her head back to peer up at him, still giggling.

Jim came around the truck to stand next to them. "Come on, kids, food's a-waiting."

Steven met them at the door. "Hi, guys. We were beginning to wonder if you were gonna make it." The unspoken words "if you'd changed your minds" hung in the air. Bridges were still being mended and had a fragility to them that both men tried to avoid snapping.

Clasping a hand on his brother's shoulder, Jim shook his head. "Sorry about that. We got a little, uh, side-tracked."

Blair snorted. "Side-tracked. That's one way of putting it. We were in a car chase, man."

"A car chase?" Steven raised an eyebrow. "On Thanksgiving?" He chuckled. "Somehow I'm not surprised."

Jim shrugged and smiled, then looked around the front entryway. "Is Dad here?" Only a little hesitancy colored his voice.

Steven nodded. "He's in the family room. Admiring his grandson. I'm sure he'd like some company. He was getting worried you and Blair weren't coming."

A quick nod and a squeeze of Steven's shoulder, then Jim headed off, following the sounds of baby Nathan's giggles. He found his father sitting on the couch, holding Nathan up in front of him, a funny look on his face. Jim approached. "Hey, Dad."

William glanced up and over at him. "Jimmy! You made it. Did, uh, did Blair come as well?"

Jim nodded and shifted on his feet. "Yeah. He's talking to Steven." He took a step closer. "Is something wrong? You've got an odd look on your face."

The older man returned his attention to Nathan, smiling at the baby's happy noises. "I think Nathan needs a diaper change, but..." He chuckled weakly. "But I'm not sure I remember how anymore. It's been a long time."

Snatching up a diaper from the package of Pampers next to the couch, Jim sat down gingerly next to his father. "Well, then maybe we can do it together and I can show you. Okay?"

"Okay, Jimmy." William smiled, a little hesitant, but hope shining in his eyes. "That would be nice."

Back in the entryway, Blair handed the pumpkin pie over to Steven's care. "Here you go. Amazingly, it's still in one piece. I wasn't sure it would survive there for a few moments." He started to take off his coat, only to be accosted again by Kimberly, minus the Fargo hat, who reappeared and tugged on his hand insistently.

"You have to come see Herbie."

"Who?" Blair blinked, trying to remember if that was the name of Kimberly's stuffed rabbit or any of her other dolls. He looked up at Steven when the man chuckled. "Who's Herbie?"

Steven grinned. "Herbie is--"

Kimberly broke in impatiently. "Herbie is my duck. He was hurt. Dr. Sarah fixed him."

Again, Blair looked at Steven who clarified. "We found a duck out in the woods behind the house. He'd broken his wing and couldn't fly. Dr. Sarah Gates is a vet I know through the track and she fixed him up. Kimberly wanted to keep him." He shrugged self-consciously and looked lovingly at his daughter.

Blair chuckled and leaned in to whisper to Steven. "She's got you wrapped around her finger, Steven."

The twinkle in Steven's eyes said he agreed -- and didn't mind a moment of it.

Kimberly tugged at his hand again and Blair let himself be dragged along to the back door to the backyard. In the spacious yard, they headed across stepping stones to a small shed-size building. Immediately upon entering, Blair noted it was internally heated. And then he noted the waddling duck that Kimberly sat down on the ground to watch. Blair spotted a bag of bread on a high shelf and took it down. He fished out a few pieces, then put the bag back on the shelf before crouching next to Kimberly.

Blair held out a piece of bread. "Here you go. Why don't you see if...Herbie is hungry?"

Herbie was hungry and devoured the bread just as fast as Kimberly would feed him, quacking loudly when there was no more. Afterwards, they watched him waddle to a small pool of water set up for him to swim in.

"Blair? Kimberly?" Jim's voice called out to them, probably from just outside the house.

Blair stood and held out his hand to Kimberly. "And now it's time for us to eat."

Kimberly took his hand and waved to Herbie with the other one. "See you later, Herbie."

As they passed Jim to re-enter the house, Blair saw Jim's nose twitch a little. Realizing his clothes must've picked up some of the "duck" smell, Blair whispered, "Turn it down. Concentrate on the food smells."

Jim nodded and gave him a quick smile.

Several minutes later, they all sat around the dining room table, passing dishes around to get servings, talking and laughing together. Jim looked up at one point and met Blair's eyes from across the table. Blair grinned at him briefly before giving his attention back to Anna who asked him something about the pumpkin pie he baked.

Jim's smile grew and softened, feeling absurdly blessed. He had Blair as a friend, partner, and guide. He was mending the hurts between he and his brother and he and his father. He had a job he enjoyed (most of the time) , special senses he was beginning to understand (some of the time), and a city to protect (all of the time).

Life was good.

- The End -