Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Humor

2004 Burton Awards nominee

A piece of absolute silliness. And if the title scares you, the story will too. You have been warned.

Spoilers: reference to something from Night Shift.

The Affronted Anthropologist and His Lovely Spittoon
by Robyn and Becky
May 1998

With a grunt, Blair hefted the large round brass object up onto the kitchen counter, setting it down carefully. He wiped a hand over his forehead dramatically, then slipped back over to the front door to push it shut and drop his backpack under the coatrack.

Jim looked up from his reclining position on the couch where he had settled with a cup of coffee. At first, all he did was stare at the intimidating object, but the man suffered only a temporary loss for words. "What is that horrific obscenity?" The detective's voice was strangely casual. After all, he'd been through this "artifact-of-the-week" thing before.

The anthropologist laughed. "C'mon, Jim, don't be scared. It won't hurt you, I promise."

"No, no, don't tell me, let me guess... I know," he clapped his hands once, "it's a trash can! We could always use another one of those around here."

"No, Jim. Isn't it pretty? Bertha polished it for me today before I picked it up from the museum."

Jim hazarded another guess. "It's some bizarre ceremonial kettle for cooking tongue?"

"Nah, not big enough. That reminds me," he said, snapping his fingers, "I promised Megan I'd make some for her. No, actually I picked this up for the drama team at the University. They needed it for a prop for the western they're doing tomorrow."

Jim appeared not to be listening, for his expression revealed he was deep in thought. Then his face lit up with a broad smile. "Oh, I know what it is, Chief. You're tired of having to take turns in our one bathroom. It's a chamber pot!" He spoke with an air of satisfaction at having solved the case.

"NO, Jim, NO!" Blair protested, laughing in spite of himself. "It's just a spittoon."

"It's a WHAT?"

"A spittoon, Jim. You know, like in the Old West? Cowboys, saloons, tobacco?"

Jim waved a hand in the air. "I know what a spittoon is, Chief, you don't have to tell me." His lips twitched upwards into a grin. "You sure it's only for a prop in a play? You do know what I'll do to you if you try to use it for its intended purpose."

Blair made a face. "Yes, I do know what you'd do to me and besides, I don't wanna find myself wearing this thing as a hat. Trust me, it ain't gonna happen. That is so disgusting." He shuddered as he turned back to grab his backpack before heading to his room.

Going back to his coffee and the evening news, Jim said, mostly to himself, "A spittoon. I've got tribal gods and masks decorating the loft, more anthropology books than I've ever wanted to see scattered everywhere I look, and unidentifiable foods from unknown countries in the fridge. What's another bizarre addition to the Sandburg Zone Collection going to matter?" He sipped his coffee, waiting for the response.

"Hey!"

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

"Planning on taking up a new habit, Sandburg? Dirty one at that," said Simon, watching his best detective team stroll into the Major Crimes bullpen. Blair carried what Simon thought was a suspiciously familiar-looking round pot in the door as he followed Jim.

"Finally somebody knows what this thing is!" exclaimed Blair as Jim rolled his eyes. The anthropologist hugged the brass artifact more closely to himself in a protective gesture, then set it on Jim's desk with extreme gentleness, shoving a stack of papers to the side to make room. Jim sighed heavily as he sat down in his desk chair, ignoring Simon's chuckle at Blair's characteristic effusiveness.

In a matter of seconds, a wad of paper came flying through the air from the other side of the bullpen and rolled around the open rim before settling at the bottom. "And it's a three!" Brown triumphantly declared as he lifted his arms in victory, adding sound effects for a cheering crowd. Next to him, Rafe rolled his eyes.

"Gimme that," Rafe said, grabbing another wad of paper from Brown's hand. "I can do it as a hook shot!" The second wad sailed toward Ellison's desk, bounced off the momentarily speechless anthropologist's shoulder and thudded successfully into the object. He exchanged a high five with Brown, both men grinning widely.

"Stop! Everybody, STOP!" The whole bullpen became quiet at the startling loudness of Blair's aggravated yells. Actually, that Blair yelled was startling by itself. That the yells were loud just added to the shock.

"Look. This is NOT a cooking kettle. This is NOT a chamber pot. And this is certainly NOT a trash can. This is a SPITTOON, for crying out loud! And it's on loan to me from a MUSEUM!" He fished the wads of paper from the bottom of the pot and dropped them on Jim's desk in a symbolic gesture. "And if ANYONE tries to use it as a trash can, well, FORGET IT, 'cause there's gonna be consequences. So just COOL it!"

Simon raised an eyebrow, then another as Blair's voice increased in volume. He looked over Blair's shoulder to Jim, asking quietly, "Is he having a bad day?"

"Everyone kept asking what it was on the way up here. And I mean everyone. After they took about the requisite three guesses first, of course. The most popular ones were a cooking kettle, a chamber pot, or a trash can. 'Course some people thought it was a dog food dish, potpourri container, flower pot, a place to store miscellaneous junk etc., etc. You get the picture."

"Why'd he bring it here anyway?"

Jim leaned back in his chair, playing with a pencil. "He picked it up yesterday from a museum, like he said, and he's dropping it off later this afternoon to someone at the drama department at the university for some western play they're doing. He refused to leave it in the truck, worried that it might disappear."

Simon nodded. "Ah. I see." He paused, then shook his head. "No, I don't see. But I don't think I want to anyway."

Laughing, Jim went on. "In any case, I think it's just finally got to be too much for him. Too many people asking and guessing wrong. I think he's wishing he'd gone straight to the U."

"Jim, I can talk for myself, you know," Blair huffed.

The detective shifted his gaze to his youthful partner. "You seemed to be busy at the moment."

Blair muttered and grumbled about police detectives and their collective inability to recognize a spittoon when they saw one. Simon only rolled his eyes and Jim chuckled under his breath.

Slowly the others in the bullpen started talking again, all making sure they gave Jim's rather aggravated, affronted partner plenty of room. Simon patted Blair on the arm and headed back to his office.

A few moments later, Megan walked in, going straight for Jim's desk. "What was all that yelling I heard? I could hear it in the lift on the way up."

Blair looked up, an abashed look on his face. "That would've been me."

She frowned, reaching over to touch his shoulder. "Are you okay, Sandy? Something wrong?"

"No, no, nothing's wrong. Just a little upset. It's okay."

She nodded and her eyes dropped to the top of Jim's desk and the large, round brass pot. She smiled. "I haven't seen one of those since I left home. It's lovely." Looking at Jim, she asked, "I didn't think you were the type, Jim. Where were you planning to keep it? Under your desk maybe?"

Jim nearly choked on his laughter. "It's not mine. It's Sandburg's." He eyed her. "Just what do you think it is anyway?"

Frowning, she ran a few fingers over the rim. "It's a spittoon, of course. What else would it be?"

Blair grinned. "What else indeed?"

Jim groaned and waved them both away as he shifted in his chair to look at his computer screen. "Never mind. Forget I even asked."

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

The morning progressed with little interruption. Jim focused on getting caught up with paperwork. The spittoon still rested atop his desk, though shoved to one corner where it would be out of the way. More than one detective or passerby asked about it in Blair's absence. Jim only shrugged, saying it was his partner's good luck charm and that it made for good laugh value.

Only once, when Jim and Blair were out refilling their coffee mugs in the break room, did an anonymous department employee dare to stick a post-it note on the pot which said, "Alms for the Anthropologist". Jim had to stifle his own laughter as Blair snatched the note and glared around the bullpen, listening in vain for any tell-tale snickering.

Things started to get interesting, though, when Blair had to leave to pick up a report from Serena in Forensics. Jim had a visitor, first announced by the plunk of a briefcase on his desk. Turning, he saw his favorite annoyance from the FBI. Pasting a very fake-looking, polite smile on his face, he greeted him.

"Agent Mulroney. Feds stuck on another case? I'm sure we can straighten things out for you. Or did you want a critique of your performance?"

Simon walked out of his office at the same time, and Jim saw the captain make a face at the mocking comments.

Mulroney didn't react, just stared impassively at him for long moments before swinging his briefcase up, laying it with a thud on top of Blair's prized, albeit semi-ridiculous, artifact. The agent opened the briefcase and began rummaging around in it. Jim opened his mouth to say something, but changed his mind. The briefcase wasn't going to hurt it. And he could hear his partner on his way back anyway.

Simon made his way to Jim's desk. "Yes, what are you doing around here, Mulroney? I wasn't aware of any case that required FBI interference."

Opening his briefcase, Mulroney pulled out a sheaf of papers, then snapped the briefcase closed again. "Not yet, at least."

Simon raised an eyebrow, eyeing the stack of paper that rested on the briefcase lid. "Not yet? And what's that supposed to mean?" He moved back a little, realizing what the agent was using it as a stand. He looked over at Jim. "Where's the kid? I don't imagine he'd be too happy about this."

Jim paused a moment, listening, then said, "He's on his way. In fact --"

"Hey! What do you think you're doing?"

"--I think he just got here," Jim finished.

Blair scuttled over, pointing an accusing finger at the briefcase. "Excuse me, will you please move that? For your information, this isn't a briefcase stand."

Mulroney, looking very perplexed, lifted the paper and the briefcase away and Blair snatched up the spittoon, examining it for scratches or smudges. The agent looked at Simon and Jim who were both trying not to laugh. "What was that?"

Simon shook his head. "You don't want to know." He gestured toward his office. "Why don't we take this into my office for some discussion?"

After both men had gone, Blair stomped furiously back over to Jim's desk, still hugging the spittoon to his chest. "Some caretaker you are. I can't leave you alone with it for two seconds. First a sign, then a convenient spot to open a briefcase. I thought you said you'd keep an eye on it for me."

"I was keeping an eye on it."

Blair snorted. "Yeah, and a great job you're doing at it."

Jim shook his head. "Sandburg, I have never seen you so . . . fussy about any other artifact in all the time I've known you."

"Fussy! Fussy! You think I'm fussy!"

"As a matter of fact, yes, I do. Fussy Sandburg. Has a nice ring to it. Did you get the forensics report I asked for?"

Setting the spittoon carefully on the desk, still muttering under his breath, Blair pulled the report from his arm and dropped it in front of Jim. "Here."

"Thanks. Now how about helping me on some of these reports?"

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

Twenty minutes later, Jim sent Blair back to Forensics to pick up another report. Blair pointed at the spittoon, then at his partner. "That had better still be in one piece, untouched, unbothered, and unmolested when I get back." Jim nodded absently. Blair pressed. "Jim, are you listening to me?"

Jim glanced over at the spittoon, then waved Blair away. "Yeah, yeah, I got it. One piece. Untouched. Unbothered. Unmolested. Go. It'll be fine."

With a final pat to the side of the brass pot, Blair hurried out. Jim chuckled and kept working, writing something else on the report form he was currently working on. People passed in front of him, some laughing, others only shaking their heads at the odd decoration on his desk. He heard the other detectives filling in various visitors to the department on what the pot was -- 'Sandburg's Spittoon. Don't ask.' Jim laughed at the name, thinking it was somehow appropriate even though it sort of sounded like the name of a saloon in a western spoof.

Just then Brown's voice floated into the bullpen, followed by Frank, their local 'no, I'm not on speed' merchandise vendor. As usual, he was blaming his questionable behavior on caffeine in a self-righteous tone of voice.

"Whoa-ho, Jimbo! Whatcha got there?" The super-hyper Frank screeched to a halt next to Ellison's desk as soon as he spotted the shining orb, as did Brown to avoid running into him.

"Ain't this a beauty?" Frank exclaimed, stroking the polished brass. "Do you know how much coffee this baby could hold? Woo-hoo!" He clapped Jim on the back. "Man, I could get you a bunch for this baby..." The words poured out faster than Jim could blink.

Snatching Brown's coffee mug out of his hands before the detective could react, Frank wobbly raised the mug high in an exaggerated gesture, then clanged the mug loudly against the brass pot. "Cheers, boys!"

Jim cringed, both at the sharp noise and the imagined Sandburg reaction.

"Oh, no you don't," Brown warned as Frank started to take a sip of the hot liquid.

Unfortunately for Jim, Frank was one step ahead of the cops again as he shoved Brown's mug back in his chest and scooped up the spittoon in one fell swoop. Jim grabbed for it, but Frank agilely evaded him by tossing the spittoon from one arm to the other.

"Man alive! This thing is heavy! Whatcha got in here, Jimbo? Yee-haw!"

Jim saw the spittoon and his life flash before his eyes simultaneously as he envisioned the inevitable thud that would resound through the bullpen when his partner's precious object-on-loan slipped out of Frank's hands and dented itself on the floor. Determined that the scenario wasn't going to happen, Jim lunged toward the armed and dangerous man, but Frank took a big step backward and Jim all but sprawled on top of his desk.

"Whoa, careful there, Jimbo! Might hurt yourself..." Frank taunted in his annoyingly happy manner, still clutching the spittoon.

By this time the whole bullpen was watching the contest. Jim was so aggravated that he didn't see that a certain person had come back from Forensics.

"Frank." The voice was edgy but calm -- commanding, in a cop-like way. It came from behind Frank, and it was enough to make him stop dead in his tracks.

"Yeah?" Frank didn't recognize the voice.

"Put the spittoon down and step away from the table," said the voice evenly. The room was quiet as everyone, including Jim, watched to see what would happen.

"DO IT!"

That last command jerked Frank into action, and he obeyed. Jim and Brown quickly took one arm each and led the man away as clapping filled the bullpen.

Megan had come back in time to see the whole thing, and she came over and squeezed Blair's shoulder warmly. "Go, Sandy!" she said, admiration in her voice.

"Couldn't have said it better myself," observed Simon, smiling to himself. The racket had prompted him to stick his head out of his office.

"I'm impressed, Chief. Never woulda thought..." Jim was abruptly cut off by Blair's outraged voice as the younger man dropped the report on a pile of folders on the desk, then reached for the pot, examining it for dents or "bruises."

"Hey! What do you call this, anyway!?! Some kind of bodyguard you are!" Blair tore something away from the pot -- a full-size, very crumpled piece of paper that had been taped to it and had somehow survived its adventure with Frank. Waving it in the air furiously, he fumed. "Okay, who put this on here?"

Jim grabbed the paper from Blair's hand and read the few hastily scrawled words out loud after smoothing out the crinkles. "I'm a spittoon, damnit! Leave me alone or Sandburg will get you!" Jim burst out into loud laughter, ignoring the glares his partner was sending him. The other detectives quickly found their attention occupied by something else -- either their desks or the ceiling.

Frank giggled and bounced in the chair next to Brown's desk. "Not me, man."

Blair snatched the paper back and smashed it into a ball, muttering and grumbling about being picked on and abused by big bad bully cops. Jim would've worried, but he saw the amusement in his partner's eyes that he tried to hide, but couldn't. Not from a Sentinel. Blair threw the balled-up paper at him, laughing himself when it bounced off Jim's head to land on the paper-filled desk.

From his position leaning on the doorjamb of his office, Simon commented, "If you two wouldn't mind, Agent Mulroney and I would like to see you inside about a case."

Jim nodded, still grinning. "Yes, sir. Let's go, Junior."

Blair picked up the spittoon. "After you." At Jim's raised eyebrow, Blair clutched the spittoon closer. "Hey, I ain't leaving it out here. Who knows what these uncouth barbarians will do to it?"

Rolling his eyes, Jim headed toward Simon's office, Blair following him, spittoon firmly tucked in his arms. Once inside Simon's office, Blair plunked the spittoon on the table, then sat down, looking expectantly up at Simon and Agent Mulroney. Jim leaned against the table, arms crossed. Simon ignored the presence of the uninvited artifact, but Mulroney's eyes kept being drawn to it throughout the briefing, much to the amusement of the other three men.

After the briefing, Jim and Blair prepared to head out to meet with a witness Mulroney had mentioned. Halfway to the elevator, Jim realized his partner still carried the spittoon. "You're not bringing that thing in with us when we talk to the witness, Chief."

"Oh, yes, I am."

"Oh, no, you're not." He pushed the elevator button.

Blair chuckled. "Oh, yes, I am."

"Oh, no, you're not, Sandburg." The doors opened and Jim pushed Blair inside.

The doors closed on Blair's final words. "Oh, yes, I am, Ellison!"

- The End -