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

Traffic Jam IV
by Becky
August 1998

"I cannot believe you nearly ordered me a kid's meal, Jim. And told them not to forget the toy. I mean, really..."

Mouth quite full of tasty cheeseburger, Jim only shrugged in response to Blair's quiet muttering. Traffic was still stalled on the highway as the cars merged into one lane to get around the overturned semi-truck and its spilled load of tomatoes. It had taken them a good five minutes even to merge back onto the highway from the on-ramp.

Blair's voice continued to roll over him, a pleasantly distracting backdrop to the noise of the highway traffic, the dizzying vision hordes of cars of multiple shapes and colors, angry motorists, and the heavy smell of gasoline, not to mention tomatoes, in the air. Pulling away from that last sensory impression, the detective concentrated on the taste and smell of his cheeseburger and fries. He took another bite and closed his eyes, letting one his favorite foods override the more unpleasant odors in the air.

Ah...much better. Now if only they could only get back to Cascade, things would be perfect...

A rush of wind and sound disrupted him. He jerked forward to see Sandburg getting out of the car. Jim blinked and reached for him, but the younger man evaded his hands easily to stomp out to the front of the truck. With a startling move, he leaped onto the hood of the truck, waving his hands around, yelling over the loud hum of vehicle engines.

"Okay, folks, this has gone on long enough. Time for a change." Jim watched in stunned amazement as a long stick appeared in Blair's hand. "Move aside!" With the stick, the young man pointed out toward the heavy traffic, unfazed by the impossibility of the situation.

The cars moved, parting like the waters of the Red Sea.

Eyes widening, Jim blinked, then blinked again. Yep, the cars were moving aside all right, shoving to either side of the road, sometimes stacking up like blocks. He glanced back up at Blair, trying to remember how to close his mouth. His younger partner still stood on the truck hood, looking perfectly at ease, undisturbed by the slight chill in the air, hair ruffling in the morning breeze.

Blair turned slightly to look down at him from his greater height. He grinned at him. Jim's eyes were drawn to the stick in his hand. Narrowing his eyes, he realized it looked vaguely familiar. It looked like a...

Like a french fry.

"...you listening to me, Jim?"

Jim blinked several times, shaking his head once before he looked around him. Nothing had moved. Cars still surrounded him. Blair still sat next to him, a curious yet concerned look on his face, one hand caught in mid-motion in the air, a french fry held between his fingers. One of Jim's french fries.

"I thought you didn't eat grease in the morning, Chief." Jim glared at him.

Blair looked at his hand, then at Jim before popping the french fry in his mouth. He talked around it, chewing quickly. "I'm still hungry. I'll make exceptions." He reached for the box of fries in the container on the seat between them.

Jim snatched the container away, balancing it on his lap. "Not with my food you won't."

The younger man started to protest, but then simply shrugged and grinned. "Whatever, I've had my fill anyway."

Suspicious, Jim tilted the box of fries up to find it more than half-empty. He frowned, then glared at his partner who was unsuccessfully trying not to grin. "What'd you do? Eat handfuls at a time?"

"No, Jim, I ate one at a time. Slowly. You were too busy communing with your cheeseburger to notice. I think you actually zoned on it."

It was only then that Jim noticed the cheeseburger wrapper was empty and rolled into a ball in the container. Realizing he must've done exactly what Blair said he'd done -- zoned while eating the cheeseburger -- made him sigh and roll his eyes. "Whatever." He threw a final glare at his unrepentant partner, then plucked up a mostly cold french fry and chomped it down.

Blair left him alone to finish his breakfast and fiddled with the radio dials instead. Another traffic report didn't tell them anything they didn't already know -- the truck was still overturned, tomatoes were still scattered and smashed all over the road, traffic was stalled for miles behind them.

"How 'bout some music, man? I'm getting really tired of listening to Ron and his bad puns about tomatoes."

Jim waved a hand, feeling mellow and content enough to let Blair fiddle with the stations. "Yeah, go ahead. Just try to find something agreeable."

The younger man raised an eyebrow. "Agreeable by whose standards?"

"Mine, of course." Jim grinned widely. "It is my truck, after all."

Blair rolled his eyes and turned back to the radio, muttering under his breath. "His truck, after all. And he thinks he's not territorial. Geez."

Jim laughed and reached out a hand to tug at Blair's hair. But his partner's hand intercepted it, grabbing his wrist and directing it away from him.

"No, just keep those grease-laden fingers away from my hair. That's the last thing I need. I think you've done enough damage to my hair for the day."

"You sure? The grease might help get those knots out."

Blair gave him what Jim could only call the evil eye before answering slowly. "Yes, Jim, I'm sure. As Simon would say, 'Play nice'. And that means no grease in my hair. Got it?"

"Yeah, I got it, Teach."

Snorting, Blair turned his attention back to the radio. "Now I remember why I don't like getting Wonder Burger in the morning with you. Something about all that grease makes you regress or something. Now, then, music, music, music, let's see..."

"WAAAAAAHHHH!!! OOH, SOLA MIA!!!" Both men jumped in their seats, Jim nearly dumping what was left of his fries.

Blair rubbed one ear, then hurriedly turned the volume dial down. "No, I don't think opera is what I had in mind. Ow. That was way too loud. Let's try this again." More static, then a clear vocal broke through.

"On the Road Again. I just can't wait to get back on the road again..."

Jim shook his head at Blair's sudden grin. "No, Sandburg, not Willie Nelson. And definitely not that song."

"But it fits so well, don't you think? Isn't he from your generation anyway?"

"Sandburg..." Jim growled, stretching out a threatening hand, still slightly greasy fingers reaching for the hair.

Blair moved away, batting aside Jim's hand, laughing. "All right, all right, just cool it, I'm changing it. Don't get your knickers in a knot."

"I don't wear knickers, Junior. Now, you, on the other hand..."

Blair waved a finger in the air, eyes still focused on the radio dial. "Don't you even start me on that one."

"Start? You started it, not me."

Another burst of song came through the radio, this time a classical station. Loud, bombastic organ music blasted through the speakers. Blair paused a moment, eyebrows waggling. "Ooh, Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Very cool piece."

"Sounds like something I'd hear at a Dracula movie, maybe when the bats appear." Jim inched the truck forward a little bit as traffic moved.

Blair rolled his eyes, but didn't say anything, just kept turning the dial past another country channel (again playing Willie Nelson and his 'road' song), two hard rock channels (neither playing anything either man could understand any words to), a new age channel (one that Jim didn't even let him pause at), plus an oldies channel (which he hoped he flipped past fast enough for Jim to miss).

"Don't think I didn't notice that, Chief."

So much for that wishful thinking. He kept going, pausing at another classical station, this time playing a piece that made Jim freeze in his seat for a moment before relaxing, a slight smile on his face. Blair tilted his head up, looking at his partner. "And here I thought you didn't like classical music, Jim."

Jim shrugged a little, eyes distant. "I don't, not all of it, at least. But this is Wagner."

"Yeah, I know. Ride of the Valkyries. Any particular reason this song means something to you?"

The answer came softly and slowly. "One of my men, the ones that went to Peru with me, he was a classical music nut. I'd known him, worked with him, long enough to get used to it. He liked to play this song before and after each mission, both for luck that everyone would come back and in memory of those that didn't, the heroes chosen from the battlefield by the god's handmaidens, like in the Norse myths."

Blair leaned back against the seat, asking quietly, "You know about that?"

"After I got back," Jim looked over at Blair for a moment, then stared back out at the cars, "I looked up the word valkyrie in the dictionary, then an old mythology book I found at a used bookstore. It..." He stopped, then said softly, "I don't know how to explain it, but it helped, a little, not a lot, but a little."

Reaching out, Blair squeezed Jim's shoulder, rubbing it. When Jim met his eyes, Blair smiled. "Thanks for telling me that."

They shared the moment, letting it stretch out slightly before Blair pulled away as the piece ended. The station went to commercials and Blair continued to flip the dial, trying to find something 'agreeable'. Bypassing several spots of static, he finally found another clear station. The scratchy, nasal voice came through the speakers clearly and Blair burst into laughter even as Jim groaned and dropped his head on the steering wheel. Ignoring the self-pitying mutters emitting from his partner, Blair started to sing along with the radio:

"On the Road Again..."

- The End -

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Go to Traffic Jam V...