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

Traffic Jam VII
by Becky
November 1998

"...so by the time everything was all said and done, which was like a week later, Andy nearly found himself married to this woman with like eight kids or something and Rob was supposed to marry this woman's oldest daughter which would've made him Andy's son-in-law. Since the two of them were brothers, Andy being the younger, that would have made things way too strange." Blair glanced over at Jim again. The man was still hiding behind his hand, his eyes crinkled with laughter. Chuckling, he went on.

"I was still being chased around -- and argued over -- by Francesca and her two sisters. I think the three of them were plotting how to divide me up." He shivered melodramatically, ignoring the burst of chortling coming from Jim's mouth. "Neither Rob or Andy were of any help to me in the slightest -- I think they blamed me for their predicaments or something. But hey, it wasn't my fault the car decided to break down -- well, fall apart is probably a better choice of words -- where it did." He shrugged. "Even if it was my car."

Jim laughed and shook his head. "What about the other guy? Steve, right?"

Blair tapped his fingers on his leg, nodding once. "Steve, yeah. I think -- I think he ended up with the family goat or something. I was more than willing to share Francesca and her two sisters, but Steve decided he'd be better off with the goat for some reason. Those women...man, they really loved to pinch. I think I had bruises for the next week! And let me tell you, sitting in a car with those kind of bruises was not pleasant."

Laughter rolling out hard and fast, Jim moved his hand down to his stomach, holding it as he leaned over the steering wheel. "Sandburg...how...how do you get yourself into these things?" He wiped his hand over his eyes. "Oh, man, I haven't laughed so hard since you pulled out that fuzzy hat of yours last year."

Blair tried to look offended, but his eyes, twinkling in delight over his success at cracking up his friend, gave him away. "Hey! I love that hat. It keeps my ears warm." And I knew it would make you laugh, which was sorta what I was going for when I brought it with me.

Finally relaxing back into seat, Jim asked between residual chuckles, "So how long did it take you to get back to the U.S. border?"

"Considering we barely stopped for gas? Not long at all. We kept expecting to look behind us and see them following us in Francesca's beat-up old wreck of a truck. This nasty blue and white monstrosity that belched up huge billows of smoke whenever they started the thing up. And the horrific noise it made...you do not want to know." He paused, looking around the cab of the truck. "Actually, I think it was the same model as your truck, Jim."

Jim shot the younger man a quick glare. "And just what do you mean by that, Junior?"

Blair lifted both hands. "Nothing, Jim, honest. Just an observation."

"And why don't I want to believe that?"

"Maybe because you're just by nature a suspicious person?" Blair bit the inside of his cheek, trying to keep from grinning too widely.

Jim grunted. "More like you're an expert obfuscator by nature."

Blair laughed. "Obfuscator? Is that a word, Jim?"

"Obfuscator -- one who obfuscates. Why not?" Traffic began to move forward again -- still at a pretty slow speed of 5 mph, but they were moving at least. Jim deliberately kept most of his concentration on the road as the cars began to inch closer to the overturned truck and its spilled load of tomatoes.

Blair shook his head in amusement and looked out his side of the truck, idly watching the road crew attempt to clean up some of the tomatoes before they got too much more splattered on the highway surface. The strobing lights of the highway patrol over the surrounding vehicles and the red stains of the tomatoes decorating the road surface abruptly brought to mind one or two of the more unpleasant crime scenes he and Jim had visited over the years. Most times, Jim kept him away from the more nasty ones, but occasionally, Blair would catch a glimpse of one. Or sometimes he saw a forensics black-and-white photo that his mind more than happily colored in for him.

Well, isn't this a pleasant thing to be thinking about? Now I'll have to skip eating tomatoes for the next week.

Shifting in his seat to hide a shudder, he forced his eyes away from the road. Upon turning around, the younger man found sentinel eyes watching him, curiosity and wondering concern lighting their blue depths. Blair smiled softly, responding to the question painted on Jim's face. Yes, I am all right, Jim. No, nothing you need to worry about. Yes, I am glad you care enough to ask, even without words. Some days I wonder just how I got so lucky. I know you say the same thing about me, but I still think I'm getting the better part of the deal here. After another moment, Jim nodded and returned the smile before looking back onto the road, apparently satisfied with whatever he'd found in Blair's eyes.

Jim spoke quietly into the companionable silence that followed. "So not only are you jealous of my truck," he paused to pat the dashboard reverently, "you also have bad memories associated with another of its kind. That explains a lot."

Blair sighed heavily. "Haven't we already gone over this point, Jim? I am not jealous of your truck. I thought we'd settled that. Now a bad association might be true. But jealous?" He sliced a hand through the air. "Not gonna happen, man."

"Hmm. So you say. I don't know if I should believe you. Maybe we oughtta take a trip down to Mexico and ask Francesca's opinion." He glanced over at Blair, grinning. "Where'd you say that town was again, Chief?"

"I didn't." He pointed ahead of them. "Oh, hey, look, we're almost home free."

Jim chuckled, amused at his partner's quick change of topic. "Yeah. About time too."

Blair nodded in agreement, shifting again on the bench seat. "Man, I am so glad. I am getting so tired of these seats. I feel like I've been sitting here for months!" He paused, chancing a look at Jim. "Your love for your truck notwithstanding, Jim, I still think these seats are hard."

"What? They leaving bruises or something? I thought only wandering female fingers belonging to Mexican women named Francesca -- and her nameless two sisters -- did that."

Choking down an attack of laughter, Blair could only shake his head.

Jim laughed with him, reaching out a hand to poke at Blair's ribcage. "Maybe I oughtta have one of your numerous female friends check for me when we get home, hm? Maybe get it covered in your insurance. 'Bruising of posterior due to imagined hard seats.' That would look good, right?" He poked him again, laughing as Blair shied away from his fingers. However, Jim had longer arms and could still reach him. Which he did, almost counting Blair's ribs.

Blair weakly attempted to bat away his hand, still laughing. "Jim! Stop! You're supposed to be driving here!"

"If you'd stop laughing for a moment, you'd realize we're not moving at the moment." He took a quick look at the traffic ahead of him to confirm his statement, then returned his attention to his partner, shifting his hand to find those sensitive places on Blair's upper ribcage. "Oh, wait, I forgot, you can't stop laughing, can you?"

Both hands pushing Jim's hand away from his side, Blair gasped out, "Jim...."

Chuckling and relenting, Jim pulled his hand back just as traffic started to move again, finally edging past the overturned truck. The highway opened up and Jim almost breathed a sigh of relief as he gently sped up the truck as the vehicles spread themselves back out onto all the lanes.

"Oh, man. hiccup Those fingers of yours need to be registered as lethal. Right along with the patented Ellison glare."

Jim only grinned, then commented, "Thank you. I'll take that as a compliment on my technique."

"Technique. The man thinks he has a technique. Geez." Blair muttered under his breath, still calming his excited nerve endings along his ribcage. After being stuck in the loft one weekend and they both got a little silly, Jim had discovered all his weak spots for tickling. Of course, I know his too. Just harder to get to when he's got shoes on. He chuckled to himself and looked over at Jim -- finding the older man glancing at him after he changed lanes.

"Don't be thinking about revenge here, Chief. I'm bigger than you are."

"Yeah, but I'm younger."

Jim eyed him a moment. "And just what does that mean?"

"Means I don't get tired as easily as you old guys do." He grinned cheekily, pushing hair behind one ear.

The "old" guy opened his mouth to reply when Jim's cellphone rang again. They both stared at it.

Blair said, "Tell me again why you brought this thing with you, Jim. Wasn't this like a weekend with no work whatsoever? Cellphones included?"

The phone rang again as Jim sighed. "Old habit, Sandburg. Answer the thing, will you?" He pushed the phone across the seat. "It's probably Simon again, wanting an update on our progress."

"Me? No, it's your turn." He pushed the phone back toward Jim. "And why would Simon call again? He just called a few minutes ago."

Jim picked the phone up and tossed it at Blair as it rung a third time. "We won't know until you answer, Sandburg. Maybe it's a case or something. Just answer it!"

"All right, all right." He cleared his throat and flipped open the phone. "Hello. You have reached the cellphone of Detective James Ellison, Cascade PD, Major Crimes Division, the brawn half of the world-renowned Ellison-Sandburg team. Detective Ellison is unable to answer your phone call at this time due to limited capability of driving and talking at the same time."

"Sandburg..." A low grumble from his partner floated toward him.

"However, if you would like to leave a message with his ever-so-helpful and much more capable of multi-tasking partner, Blair Sandburg, I will be most happy to assist you."

"Sandburg..." The grumble shifted into a growl.

"Now, then, how may I direct your call? All crimes accepted."

Attempting -- and failing -- to be even mildly upset at Blair's monologue, Jim reached over to snatch the phone away from Blair. He stopped, hand in mid-air, when both men registered the hesitant voice at the other end of the line.

"Blair? Sweetie?"

Jim burst into laughter as a vibrant blush immediately colored Blair's cheeks.

"Mom? Hi! Um, uh, how..." Blair smacked Jim's arm as he tried to figure out what to say. "How are you doing? Sorry about the goofy stuff. Jim and I, well, Simon, Captain Banks keeps calling us and we thought it was him again."

Jim settled into the seat, still shaking his head and chuckling, letting Blair talk to his mother without interruption. He'd ask later why she was calling his cellphone. For right now, he'd just amuse himself with the memory of his partner's very red face.

That and the fact that they were finally out of the traffic jam.

- The End -