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

Summary: Jim's had a bad day and uses a sharp object to take out his aggression.

Chop-Chop
by Becky
September 1999

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Blair paused as he exited the stairwell into the Major Crimes hallway. Hitching his backpack up slightly on one shoulder, he frowned as he tried to place the oddly familiar-sounding noise. He listened but didn't hear it again. Shrugging, he started toward the doors to the bullpen, wondering what Simon had planned for them since he and Jim had wrapped up their last case late yesterday afternoon.

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He stopped again, halfway to the main bullpen doors. Glancing through the windows to the inside, he didn't see anything that would account for the noise. Scattered detectives sat at their desks, talking on phones, working at their computers, or talking with their partners. His eyes slid to Jim's desk, half hidden behind the support pillars -- and frowned. Jim wasn't there.

I saw his truck downstairs. He has to be here somewhere.

He winced as the thought of the truck. From the cracked passenger window, the mangled driver's side mirror, the long nasty jagged scrape along one side, and the blown-out tire that had been tossed in the truck bed, it was evident that Jim and Megan had been out on a case that morning already. Some car chase no doubt. Since he hadn't received a phone call from the hospital, he assumed Jim and Megan were okay and just the truck had taken damage. He winced again. Just the truck. Not what Jim would think.

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It's a paper cutter! But where...? Blair looked around, trying to pinpoint the sound's location. Well, whoever's doing it, they seem to be taking a great deal of pleasure in it. As if hearing his thoughts, the paper chopping increased for several moments.

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His eyes widened and he strode down the hall, following the echoes, his curiosity getting the best of him. As he passed the bullpen doors, a voice called out and he glanced inward, pausing a moment.

"Sandy..." Megan walked quickly out into hallway, snagging his arm even as the chopping stopped. A painful-looking scrape decorated one cheekbone, and she walked with a limp.

"Megan! What happened? Are you okay?"

She nodded, smiling at his concern. "I'm okay. Jim and I got in a bit of a tussle with a few suspects this morning."

"I saw the truck in the garage. I figured something must've happened."

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Blair motioned down the hall. "What's going on? Do you know who's doing that?"

Megan's smile faded a little and she nodded hesitantly. "It's...Jim."

"Jim?" He blinked, staring down the hallway then returning his attention to Megan. "Sounds like he's, well, chopping paper up or something."

"Well...he is. Jim's in a bit of a...snit right now. Bad day."

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Blair winced, feeling obscurely glad that he wasn't that particular piece of paper. "Bad day, huh." He took a breath, straightened his shoulders, and re-adjusted his backpack again. "Maybe I'll go see if I can calm him down before he runs out of paper and comes looking for live victims instead." He winked.

Megan chuckled softly and shook her head. "Just be careful."

He patted his backpack strap. "Don't worry. I've got ammunition if it comes to that." Tossing off a casual salute, Blair turned and strolled toward the workroom tucked at the end of the hallway.

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Blair stopped at the closed door of the workroom and grasped the doorknob, turning it slowly. Unlocked. A good sign, I hope. Taking another deep breath, he opened the door and carefully poked his head inside. Jim stood in the half-lit room at a counter with his left side to the door. The paper cutter rested in front of him. Beside the cutter lay two piles -- one a rapidly diminishing stack of flat regular-sized paper and the other a stack of smaller sized paper that Blair recognized as what Rhonda and the other secretaries used for note paper. From the looks of that stack, he's been in here a while.

"Uh, Jim?"

A pause and a grunt that sounded amazingly like a caveman answered him. Two seconds later, more chopping.

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Deciding that since Jim didn't threaten him with bodily harm if he came in, Blair entered the room and quietly closed the door behind him. He stayed where he was, not wanting to get hit by flying slivers of paper as Jim methodically chopped one stack of papers to bits. More efficient than a paper shredder.

Blair shifted against the door and said quietly. "I saw Megan in the hall. Are you okay?"

Jim nodded once, sharply.

Still not verbal. Okay. We can deal with that. "Good. Sorry about your truck, man--"

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Blair snapped his mouth shut with an audible click. Oops. Sore spot. He watched, wide-eyed, as Jim destroyed another stack of paper. After a few minutes, Jim seemed to calm down a little again, and Blair commented, "You know, usually when you're upset, you work out at the gym or go down to the firing range. Chopping paper. This...this is a new one."

Jim shoved the new shavings in the closely-positioned trash can and grabbed the last few papers. He straightened them and laid them on the cutting board, carefully lining them up with the straight-edge. Then the still non-verbal detective grabbed the cutting blade and brought it viciously down across the paper in one even stroke.

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Again, Blair winced, abruptly reminded of a guillotine. Then a small grin flitted across his face. He tapped at his lips with a few fingers, then cleared his throat before trying one last time to get a real response out of his upset partner.

"So, uh, Detective, just who're you decapitating?"

A pause, then...

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Jim set the last few neatly-sized papers on top of the pile, straightening it absently. Then he leaned forward, hands braced on the edge of the counter, head lowered. Eyes closed tightly, he breathed in then out in a rush. His voice came softly and a bit tensely. "Since I'm on duty, I couldn't go to the gym, and Simon told me to stay away of the firing range. Something about how I'd scare the rookies practicing down there."

Taking Jim's words as permission to join him, Blair shoved away from the door and walked over to stand next to his partner. He cautiously laid a hand on his mid-back, feeling the strong muscles bunch under his touch, then relax again. Chuckling quietly, Blair responded to Jim's comment. "Well, I might have to agree with Simon on the scaring the rookies part. You probably would do that, especially in this, uh, guillotine state you're in."

Jim just snorted in half-hearted laughter. Rubbing his hand carefully on Jim's back, still unsure if perhaps the detective had bruises he wasn't admitting to, Blair angled his head down to get a better look at Jim's face. He frowned when he saw a scrape matching the one Megan had.

"I thought you said you were okay." He raised a hand to touch two fingers on the outside edge of the scrape.

Jim winced and leaned away, raising his own hand to pull Blair's hand down. He finally met Blair's eyes as he shrugged. "It's okay. Guy we took down this morning had this ring on his hand. Not a lot of force behind his punches, but the ring still scratched."

Blair nodded, then fell silent, looking around at the tiny fragments of paper littering the counter, the cutting board, and the floor. He grinned when he spotted a few clinging to Jim's sweater. Moving one hand forward, he plucked them off, feeling Jim's eyes on him. He looked up, his grin wide, eyes twinkling in soft amusement and residual concern.

"So...you wanna tell me what put you in the destructive mood?"

Jim sighed and shrugged, then ran a hand over his hair. He shifted to lean sideways against the counter, displacing Blair's hand. Blair shifted to rest against the counter as well, eyes fixed on Jim's face. Jim waved a hand in the air. "Just...a lot of things. Simon dumped three new hot cases on my desk just minutes after I walked in the door. Before I even had time to look at them, Conner and I went got a lead on the Heppenstall robberies and chased it down. And found our suspect who didn't want to come quietly." He gestured at his face. "Which is where the scrapes came from."

"And the truck?"

Wincing, Jim went on. "The truck. Man, I just got that thing repaired from last week when that idiot Donnelly tore off the door." He shook his head. "We'd just stuffed Heppenstall into a patrol car when this silver Ferrari roared by, skidding out of control. I grabbed Conner and pulled her out of the way just before the driver decided to smash into the passenger side of the truck -- the cracked window. Before we even get to our feet again, another vehicle, this huge truck on some of those monster wheels comes crashing by, hitting the other side of my truck -- the scrape and the busted mirror." He growled. "Conner and I took off after them, calling for back-up as we went. To make a long story short, both drivers are sitting downstairs in lock-up -- but not before shooting one of my new tires out. I'm tempted to conveniently misplace their vehicles to be dismantled for parts."

Blair shook his head and patted Jim on the arm. "Oh, man, today was not your day."

Jim held up a hand. "Oh, I'm not finished yet, Chief. When we got back, I was told several of my recent case reports have vanished and I have to redo them. 'Course that'll be hard to do considering my computer is down and refuses to work. Technical support is busy and hasn't been able to get up here yet, so I'm just getting further and further behind." He stopped and took a breath, waving his hand in the air again. "And...and...and I didn't get any donuts this morning!"

"Well, you know what?" Blair moved the stack of cut paper back and swung his backpack up to lay on the counter. He quickly unzipped the pack and reached inside. "I may have the cure for at least one of those problems."

Moving forward just a bit, Jim sniffed the air. A smile started to appear on his face, echoed by the gleam in his eyes. "Do you have what I think--?" He broke off as Blair withdrew his hand.

Grinning, Blair held up the package of mini powdered sugar donuts, waving it enticingly under Jim's nose. Jim chuckled and snatched the package, opening it quickly. "Chief, you are a lifesaver!" He pulled one of the powdery confections from the small box and took a huge bite of it, over half disappearing into his mouth. Powdered sugar puffed into the air and settled onto Jim's features. But Jim, eyes closed in rapture, didn't notice.

Wave something sweet and sugary under the man's nose and suddenly life is good again. Blair laughed softly as he imagined a newspaper headline. 'Major Crimes Saved From Wrath of Ellison by Donut-Bearing Observer.'

"I think they're wondering if you became my victim, Sandburg." Jim spoke up between bites, pausing to lick sugar from his fingers as he gestured toward the small workroom windows with his chin.

Blair twisted to look behind him, seeing a multitude of faces and eyes all trying to peer through the windows. He waved a hand at them, giving them a thumb's up. Smiles answered him, but no one left. Blair said with a grin, "Actually I think they want some of those donuts, man."

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The faces and eyes disappeared in an alarming rate as feet could be heard jogging back down the hallway to the bullpen. Startled, Blair turned back to see Jim pick up another donut.

"They can get their own. These are mine."

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