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

Summary: A series of stories that contemplate just what do Jim and Blair do while stuck in traffic on their way back to Cascade? And will they ever get home?

Traffic Jam I
by Becky
April 1998

"Well, this is just great."

Jim Ellison stared balefully at the lines of cars on the highway leading back into Cascade. Everything was at a dead stop. And he was in the middle lane with no way out even if there was an off-ramp within sight. He tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, grinding teeth in annoyance. He muttered again, "Just absolutely great."

Next to him in the cab of the 1969 blue and white pickup -- or Ellison's 'hayseed truck' as Jim had heard it referred to on occasion in the station garage -- sat Blair, half-dozing and curled up against the door. Jim shook his head, slightly amused and just a touch envious, as he watched the semi-conscious form of his partner.

"You would be able to sleep in this."

To his surprise, Blair answered him, well, answered him after a large yawn. "You know us graduate students. We can sleep anywhere and at any time. Well, for the most part, that is." He straightened up in the seat, shoving his hair back, then rubbed a hand across his eyes. Squinting in the early morning light, Blair looked around. "Oh, this is cute. What's going on?"

"I don't know. Probably some idiot who changed lanes without using his blinker and then caused an accident." He paused, then glanced back over at Blair as he yawned again. "Sorry there, sleepyhead. Didn't mean to wake you."

Rolling his eyes at the nickname, Blair waved it off. "No problem. I was waking up anyway. Too much noise."

Jim nodded, wincing as a horn blast struck his sensitive ears. "Yeah, so I noticed."

Laughing a little, Blair shook his head. "No, not that noise. I can sleep through that. Well, unless it's right next to me. What woke me was you and those teeth of yours. I swear one of these days you're gonna chip something."

Jim sighed. "So you and my dentist keep telling me."

"You should listen to us, man. Teeth are not something that you want," he paused to yawn largely again, "not something that you want to replace."

"Thank you, Dr. Sandburg."

Blair lifted his hand in defense. "Fine, don't come crying to me in your senior years when your teeth start to go as well as what's left of your hair."

Jim growled, reaching over to tug at a hank of Blair's curly hair. "Watch it, kiddo. You're treading on dangerous ground."

Blair grinned, not at all fazed. "Yeah, yeah, whatever."

Shifting to look back at the still unmoving cars in front of him, Jim smiled quietly, feeling a little better now that Blair was awake to keep him company. They had spent the weekend camping and had left before dawn to get back to work today, Monday.

Only now it didn't seem like they were going to make it on time.

His smile slipping a little, he grumbled and pulled his cell phone from his jacket pocket. "We're going to be here for a very long time. A lot longer than I thought we would. Guess I'd better call Simon before he starts to wonder."

Blair nodded in agreement, grinning. "Yeah, knowing Simon, he'll think we've got ourselves into trouble or something."

Jim punched the speed dial button for Simon's personal line. "More likely it's Simon knowing us. Or at least you. You're the trouble magnet in this partnership, remember?"

Blair snorted and swatted Jim's arm. "Gee, thanks, Jim. You are so kind."

Jim laughed, looking pleased. "Yes, I am, aren't I?" Ignoring Blair's groaned response, Jim focused his attention on the phone as Simon picked up on the other end in his usual clipped fashion.

"Banks."

"Hey, Simon, it's Jim. We're gonna be a little late getting into Cascade."

"Into Cascade? Where are you?"

"Sandburg and I went camping this weekend, Simon, you know that."

"Yes, I do know that. I just want to know why you aren't in Cascade already. Don't you normally come back the day before?"

"Yeah, normally, but the rain was making the roads pretty nasty last night and I didn't want to chance it with the truck. We got an early start this morning, but the highway into Cascade is pretty jammed. At the moment, we're at a standstill."

Over the phone, Jim could hear Simon sigh heavily. "All right, I'll see you when you get here. Drive safely and try not to anger any motorists out there."

"Yes, sir." He clapped the phone shut and tossed it onto the seat. Settling back more comfortably in his seat, his eyes still on the road, he said, "So, Chief, it seems we're gonna be here awhile."

Blair made a face. "So I noticed."

"You gonna entertain me?"

Blair turned in his seat to stare at Jim, eyes almost comically wide. "Entertain you? Did you ask if I was gonna entertain you?"

Jim's mouth turned up into a sideways goofy grin. "Yeah, I did."

The younger man stared a moment longer, then started to laugh, shaking his head. "Entertain you. Geez. Um, well, let's see. Naomi and I did our share of car trips. We usually sang songs." He threw a look at Jim. "But somehow I don't think you're the type to sing 'There's a Hole in My Bucket' or 'The Ants Go Marching'."

Jim moved his hand across the air above the steering wheel in a decisive cutting motion. "That would be a no, Chief."

"So I thought. Uh, reading license plates or finding stuff, no, you'd win both of those, no contest. Telling jokes, I'd win that, unless we were seeing who could tell the worst jokes, then you'd probably win."

Jim grunted. "You really do like playing on thin ice, don't you, kid?"

Blair chuckled. "Sorry, sorry. Moving on, we always have the old favorite of Twenty Questions."

"Maybe later if we're still stuck here."

"What? I think you'd be good at Twenty Questions, you being a detective and all."

Jim shook his head. "Oh, it's not that. I just want to make sure I don't have an unfair advantage, seeing that you just woke up and all."

"Funny, Jim, real funny. You're just a barrel of laughs this morning."

Jim laughed, then asked, "Anything else?"

Blair hesitated a moment, then plowed on. "Just one other thing. Naomi and I used to tell stories. Sometimes made up, sometimes not. Sometimes a mixture of both."

Jim didn't say anything at first, instead seemingly concentrating on letting the truck roll a few feet forward as the cars started moving little by little before stopping again a few seconds later. Still staring out the windshield, Jim chewed on his lip a moment, then said softly, "Tell stories, hm? Something particular you wanted to hear?"

Shifting in his seat, Blair shrugged, staring out the side window for a moment before turning back to look at Jim. "No, nothing in particular. Just always curious about what makes James Ellison tick, that's all."

Jim met Blair's eyes. "Is this James Ellison the detective or James Ellison the Sentinel?"

Blair smiled. "Neither. This is James Ellison my friend."

Jim blinked. "Oh." Then he reached over and squeezed Blair's shoulder. Blair's hand went up to cover it warmly and both were silent for a long moment. Jim broke the moment gently by grinning and shifting his hand up to slap playfully at Blair's cheek before pulling his hand away to rest on the steering wheel. "Nothing in particular, hm? Well, let's see . . ."

Blair watched as Jim got lost in thought, his fingers tapping idly on the steering wheel. Finally after long moments of companionable silence, Jim smiled, laughing softly under his breath.

"You wanted a story, well have I got one for you. It all started back in high school..."

- The End -

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Go to Traffic Jam II...