Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

Summary: Jim stops by to visit Carolyn while in San Francisco and gets a little more than he bargained for.

Notes: Written for Robyn who requested a story that included "Jim, Carolyn, and a cat." As a fan and a writer, I like Carolyn. So if you don't, move along; this story ain't for you. And at the bottom of this page, there is a link to an alternate scene that I pulled when writing this story; nothing bad, just more romantic.

Setting: Post-TSbyBS and after my previous story, Reverie. Takes into account my previous stories, Memory's Tears, Ripples, and A Father's Eyes; also I had to edit a few things in the last section of A Father's Eyes (nothing hugely altering) to get the timing right for these two stories.

Beta'ed (several times) by my wonderful roomie, Robyn.

Not So Faded
by Becky
July 2000

Jim paused on the sidewalk outside the nondescript building and dug his hands into his jacket pockets. The late morning winds blew past him as did several people hurrying on their way to...somewhere. He squinted as the rush of noise filled his ears, but then shook it off before it overwhelmed him. What's the saying? Okay to visit, but I wouldn't want to live here. Looking around, he found himself amazed again at how people could live in such a busy place.

Realistically, he knew that San Francisco and Cascade weren't that different: both were cities by the ocean and both tended to be on the busy side. But he missed the nearness of the mountains and he wasn't too fond of the idea of being in an area famous for large earthquakes. His partner would probably rattle on about the "territorial nature of sentinels" or something which could be true.

Not that I'd admit that to him, of course. A rushed pedestrian on roller blades wizzed by him and Jim wrinkled his nose. Give me mountains and trees any day over San Francisco. Man.

He and Blair had arrived last night and gone straight to the hotel which was hosting the anthropology convention Blair decided just last week he absolutely had to attend. He shook his head in amusement. His partner, now a fully degree-ed Ph.D. and full-time consultant to the Cascade PD, was an anthropologist to the core and probably always would be. Jim had decided to tag along partially because Simon said he needed the downtime, partially because Blair said he needed the downtime, and partially because he wanted to visit someone living in San Francisco.

And knowing Sandburg, he's gonna want a full report later.

Staring at the sun glinting off the building windows, Jim took a breath and released it. It had been just over three years since he'd seen Carolyn. Granted, they'd parted on pretty good terms and they'd talked on the phone fairly often in the intervening time and they got along better now than they ever had in the past -- at least over the phone -- but he still wondered. Especially since the last time she saw him in person, she didn't know he was a sentinel -- which she did now, even if he hadn't told her all the exact details.

C'mon, Ellison, get a grip. She's not gonna run screaming for the hills because you're a little different. She's Carolyn Plummer, not exactly the fainting female type.

Suppressing a smile at the voice that sounded suspiciously like both Blair's and Simon's, Jim squared his shoulders and strode towards the building.

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

Getting through security at the front door took time, but Jim waited patiently as they checked out his credentials. No need to get on the bad side of the local law enforcement. After being cleared and given a guest pass, Jim headed to the forensics offices expecting to find Carolyn inside, intensely studying some piece of evidence or writing some report to present to the detectives in charge.

What Jim didn't expect was to find himself pinned by three sets of female eyes as soon as he walked in the door. Conversation ceased for a moment, then picked back up again as hissed whispers, audible to normal ears, floated to him over the ambient noise of lab work.

"Psst...look at the stud that just walked in the door."

"Who is he?"

"I sure wish I knew."

Well, that's one thing I'm not telling Sandburg.

He felt the tips of his ears reddening but ignored it as he quickly tried to locate Carolyn's office. To the side of the main laboratory area, he noted an office with a half-open door with a nameplate that read "C. Plummer." Taking a breath, Jim stepped further into the large room and cleared his throat. "Hi. I'm here to see Carolyn Plummer."

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

Inside the office, Carolyn frowned at her computer where an analysis scrolled past her eyes. Murmuring under her breath, she tapped a pen on the screen, staring at a particular line, then kept paging down.

"Uh, Carolyn?"

Reluctantly dragging her eyes away from the screen, Carolyn Plummer glanced towards her door where her assistant Maggie stood, her eyes bright with barely restrained curiosity. "Yes?"

"There's a gentleman here to see you."

Carolyn's eyes widened and she glanced quickly at her watch. "Is it noon already?"

"I could come back later."

The familiar voice startled her and she jerked her head up to meet a pair of light blue eyes and a broad smile peeking in around Maggie. Carolyn returned the smile and stood, edging around the desk to meet her visitor.

"Jim!" She pulled Jim inside, giving him a brief hug. "Sorry, I just lost track of time. You know how it is when I get to working on something." Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Maggie avidly watching them as were the others in the lab beyond her.

Jim's smile grew wider and he laughed. "So I remember. And actually I'm a little early. If you need to finish up something..." He gestured towards the computer.

Carolyn shook her head. "It's nothing that won't keep until tomorrow."

"Well, then, how 'bout an early lunch? My treat."

"You're on. Just let me save what I'm working on and we can go." Patting Jim's arm, she stepped back to her desk to save her work and power down her computer. She looked at him as she waited for the computer to follow the input commands. "You do remember there's no Wonderburger in the area, right?"

Jim chuckled. "Yeah, I remember. Don't worry. No burger joints."

Carolyn laughed softly and, after retrieving her purse and coat, rejoined Jim at the doorway. Her assistant waited a few feet away next to a counter. With a smile for Jim, Carolyn said, "Maggie, I'm heading out to lunch and I'm taking the rest of the day off."

As they walked through the doors, Carolyn said, "So, the last time we talked, aside of last week, you told me Blair received his Ph.D. at Rainier..."

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

"So how's Simon these days?" Carolyn speared another piece of lettuce from her plate.

"Simon?" Jim settled back into his seat opposite Carolyn in the Sizzler booth. "He's pretty much the same. Does a bit of yelling every day to relieve tension, usually at me and Sandburg. Still foists oddly-flavored coffees on unsuspecting victims. Grouches about the Chief and the budget and the legal system. You know how it goes."

Carolyn laughed and shook her head. "You're right. He sounds the same."

Jim grinned. "Oh, and he sends his greetings, by the way. He, uh, wanted me to tell you that if you ever felt like moving back to Cascade, the department would welcome you."

"Hmm." She raised her eyebrows. "Do I sense a plea from the good Captain Banks?"

"Let's just say that the last forensics chief we had, uh..." He paused and rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, she didn't work out too good."

"That was...Cassie Welles, right?"

Jim nodded. "Yeah. She meant well, but she just wasn't meant for Cascade. Anyway, she left several months ago to take a job in some town in Arizona." He shrugged. "She and Sandburg exchange email periodically and apparently she loves it down there. Better for her asthma, I think."

Carolyn took a sip of her iced tea. "Did she and Sandburg have a thing?"

Chuckling, Jim shook her head. "No, not really. He tried asking her out, but she was too busy trying to ask me out, even though she said she had a 'no dating of co-workers' policy. Simon finally said enough was enough and that was it. She backed off and so did Sandburg." His smile grew. "And then a few months later, Conner showed up and well, any thought of Welles flew from his mind." Pushing aside his plate, Jim shifted to the end of the booth seat. "I think I'm gonna check out the dessert offerings. Do you want anything?"

She pursed her lips in thought, then shook her head. "No, I'm fine. Go ahead."

"Okay. Be right back." Jim slipped from the booth and wove his way around other diners to the dessert counter.

Carolyn shifted in her seat to watch him, smiling fondly as he paused to help a distraught little boy get to his mother after being abruptly separated by a line of passing businessmen. She couldn't hear what he said, but Jim's lips moved and he smiled as he touched the little boy's head before handing him back to his mother. The little boy sniffled and smiled back from his perch on his mother's hip. He would've made a good father.

Turning away before Jim spotted her watching him, Carolyn sipped her iced tea and ran her finger down the side of the glass, disturbing the condensation along the smooth surface. He's not who I remember anymore. She'd known from the phone calls she and Jim had shared over the years since she'd left Cascade that Jim had changed and mellowed, but she'd always wondered if what she thought she knew was simply because they weren't in the same room to get on each other's nerves.

Seeing him in person, however, had only confirmed her unspoken speculation that Jim had finally made peace with himself. That he'd finally settled on who he was. And liked it.

Carolyn wondered idly just how much his partner, whom she remembered as a somewhat excitable overeager graduate student, had to do with it. Maybe I misjudged him.

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

After lunch, remembering how much Jim liked to watch the water, Carolyn took him to the bay, and they strolled along the pier, still talking, sliding into reminiscing about the good times. The air around them echoed with laughter and fond memories.

"Do you remember the look on Simon's face when we told him we were getting married?" Carolyn laughed softly.

Jim chuckled. "Oh, yeah. The only time I've ever seen him drop his cigar in his coffee. The man was not a happy camper."

At the end of the pier, they leaned against the railing that overlooked the bay. The chilly wind whipped past them as they watched the sun sparkle off the water, comfortable with each other. Shivering as the cold air blew on her bare legs, Carolyn pressed a little closer to Jim.

Jim tilted his head down. "Cold?"

"A little. The outfit isn't exactly made for walking by the bay." She gestured to her knee-length skirt and blouse suit.

Shifting, Jim hesitantly wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulling her to him. "Better?"

She smiled up at him and patted his hand where it rested on her arm. "Better."

The rush of the ocean surf filled their ears as they stood together at the railing. After a few silent minutes, Carolyn glanced up to find Jim's eyes closed and his head lifted just a tad. He took a deep breath, then let that breath out slowly.

Quietly, Carolyn asked, "Does it, the ocean, sound...different to you?" She felt his arm tense, then relax as his eyes opened. This was the first time she'd really asked about his senses since he'd admitted to having them during a phone call after the dissertation had been released almost a year ago.

Jim stared over the water, then looked at her. "Probably not a lot different. It's...louder. But it's a loudness that I enjoy. Sorta like white noise." He shifted a little, his uneasiness in talking about his senses obvious to her. "It blocks out all the other noise around it, lets me relax a little. It's...soothing. If that makes any sense."

Carolyn smiled. "Actually, it does. I always wondered why you liked the water so much." She shivered again as another stiff breeze blew by on the way in from the ocean.

Jim's arm tightened around her shoulders, then shifted as he moved away from the railing. "We should get inside."

Looking at him as they walked back towards her car, Carolyn grinned. "I still make a mean cup of coffee if you're up to it."

"The Plummer House Special? Wouldn't miss it."

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

Jim held back as Carolyn pushed open the door of her second story apartment and walked inside. She flipped the switch next to the door and light spilled outward into the hallway. "Come on in. Make yourself at home."

Entering behind her, Jim's eyes took in the tasteful decor filling the short hallway and the living room as he closed the door. "Nice. Looks like you." He paused, then added, "Kinda small, though."

Carolyn nodded. "I know. And this is one of the more affordable places I looked at." She smiled and glanced at Jim. "It wasn't until I moved in that I realized how much I missed the spaciousness of the loft." Dropping her purse and keys on a table near the front door, she gestured to the kitchen. "There's water and soda in the fridge if you want it. I'm just gonna change if you don't mind."

Removing his leather jacket, Jim draped it over one arm as he moved towards the living room. "Go right ahead. I'll just--" He stopped short as his nose started to itch.

Halfway to her bedroom, Carolyn turned back around to throw a smile at Jim. "Oh. Watch out for Ellie."

"Ellie?" Jim queried, then sneezed loudly. "Achoo!" Twice. "Achoo!" Eyes tearing in reaction, he looked around for the culprit.

"My cat." Carolyn's lips twitched.

"Your cat?"

She directed his attention to the small mostly gray feline stretched out on the back of the couch.

Digging a tissue from his pocket, Jim wiped at his nose. "Oh, yeah. Ellie. Your cat. I forgot." He eyed the feline warily as she blinked lazily at him. "Achoo!"

Carolyn bit down on another smile. "Sorry. Open the balcony door a little if it'll help."

"I think I'll do that. Thanks."

Carolyn disappeared into her bedroom down another short hallway. Sidling by the watching cat, Jim hurriedly strode across the room to open the sliding balcony door, leaving the screen door closed. Eyes closed, he took a deep breath. And another. And another. Slowly he pictured Sandburg's famous "dials" in his mind and worked on dismissing the sneeze-producing cat scent.

Ahh... Much better. Thank you, Chief. He sniffled again briefly then turned to stare at the cat. "What are you looking at?"

The cat simply blinked, then yawned, showing a mouthful of tiny pointed teeth before she settled back to down to continue her interrupted nap, albeit with her eyes open just slightly.

Jim snorted. Sorry. Not impressed. I've seen better. And bigger. He ignored the small feline's scrutinizing eyes as he wandered through Carolyn's small living room. He ran his fingers over the books on the small bookshelf, seeing several from their married days stacked in amongst newer ones. He finally decided to sit down on the couch -- at the opposite end from the cat -- and look through a coffee table book filled with pictures of the northwest.

Minutes later, Carolyn exited her bedroom and walked into the kitchen. Jim glanced over to see her filling the coffee maker and blinked a few times as he recognized the short-sleeved floral print dress. A tiny smile turned up the corners of his mouth before he refocused his attention on the book. He'd had bought Carolyn the dress during the good times of their marriage. He'd wondered what happened to it after their divorce.

Coffee set to brew in the kitchen, Carolyn rejoined him in the living room. Jim lifted his head from the book and smiled at her, then nodded at Ellie who continued to watch him with a half-lidded gaze.

"Your cat is staring at me."

Curling her legs underneath her, Carolyn settled comfortably next to him on the couch. She chuckled and patted his knee fondly. "Don't worry. She doesn't bite. Well, not hard at least."

"I'll take your word for it." Jim closed the book and gestured to the cover as he replaced it on the coffee table. "Just couldn't leave Washington behind, could you?"

"A friend got that for me last year for my birthday." She chuckled. "I think she got the idea I was homesick."

"Were you?"

Carolyn shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe a little."

Jim started to say something else, but stopped when Ellie meowed loudly and pushed herself to her feet to nimbly jump down to the cushions. She padded over to Carolyn and sat down, licking one white paw in between watching Jim. Her tail slid through the air lazily, the tip flicking occasionally. Carolyn grinned at Jim's obvious discomfiture and lifted one hand to scratch behind the cat's ears. "Ignore her. She's putting on airs for the company."

The cat purred blissfully and rubbed her head against Carolyn's hand, finally dismissing Jim's presence as unimportant.

"Uh-huh." Jim shifted his attention back to Carolyn. "It just dawned on me -- you never told me why you named her Ellie?"

Carolyn looked at the cat, a secret smile pulling on her lips. "Remember how I told you my cat reminded me of you?"

"Yeah..." Jim said warily.

"Well, what I didn't tell you was that she also had white paws which reminded me of your collection of white socks." She chuckled at Jim's mock frown. "But since I didn't want to name her 'Whitesocks', I decided to go with Ellie, short for..."

Jim finished with a wry laugh. "Ellison. I get it."

Carolyn let the silence hang for a few moments, then leaned back into the couch and said, "So...now that you've caught me up on all the recent gossip at the station, including the fact Sandburg is seeing Conner..."

Jim chuckled. "Yeah. I caught them kissing in the loft elevator a couple weeks ago. I think it's getting serious, but Sandburg won't confirm anything. 'Course he's not denying it either. And Conner just smiles at me and walks away." He shook his head in amusement.

She laughed. "I'll have to meet her if I happen to visit Cascade. Everything you've told me about it just has me intrigued."

"Hmm...scary thought. The two of you meeting."

"Hey!" Shifting on the couch and restraining a grin, Carolyn focused on Jim. "Anyway, as I was saying, what about you? What is going on in Jim Ellison's life?"

Jim waved a hand in the air. "Oh, you know, the same old stuff. Catching the bad guys. Letting Simon yell at me every now and then. Trying not to destroy another vehicle. Still getting used to answering phone calls for 'Dr. Sandburg' and razzing him about it." He grinned. "I think he's decided being a Ph.D. makes him feel old. Didn't help that he turned thirty about the same time."

Carolyn chuckled, then sighed. "I still can't believe Sandburg's dissertation got released like that. Even after you told me what happened, it just sounded so unreal." She eyed Jim and said softly, "Must have been rough for awhile."

Jim shifted a little, looking down at his hands. "Yeah. A little. But we got through it. Slowly."

"Did you manage to scare any reporters out of Cascade?"

A loud, surprised laugh slipped from between Jim's lips and he met Carolyn's eyes with a wide grin. "A few, I'm sure. I smacked one or two that lurked around the loft waiting to pounce on Sandburg and me. That cane I had came in quite handy."

"Sounds like the crotchety old Jim we all know and love." Carolyn patted his arm. "I imagine that Ellison glare got a workout as well."

"Hmm." Jim smiled, a twinkle in his eyes as he remembered a certain uncomfortable chancellor. "You could say that."

Carolyn shook her head. "Uh-huh. That sounds vaguely suspicious to me, but I won't bother asking. Oh, by the way, whatever happened to that publisher guy?"

Jim grinned evilly. "My father sicced one of his lawyers on him. Suffice it to say, good ol' Sid is no longer in the publishing business." A not-so-nice laugh slipped out. "Dad didn't appreciate having his son or his son's friend, uh, how did he put it, 'endangered and open to public scrutiny in such a fashion'."

"'Dad'?" Carolyn raised her eyebrows. "You told me you two started talking again, but I didn't know it had progressed that far."

Blue eyes softening, Jim gazed through the open balcony door where the sounds of traffic drifted inward. "It's been...tough. But we've talked. A lot. Sometimes just the two of us. Sometimes Steven as well. But we're getting there." He laughed self-consciously. "What can I say? The Ellison men are hard-headed, but we're persistent."

Carolyn smiled. "I think I'd like to meet your father."

Lips curling up into a smile, Jim said, "He's asked about you a few times, wanting to know what you're like, what you do, those kinds of things."

Leaning away, Carolyn crossed her arms over her chest and gave him a look. "And just what did you tell him?" Behind her, Ellie meowed once in query when the petting hand was removed, but then settled onto the couch for a nap, tail continuing to twitch on the cushions.

Jim grinned and shifted on the couch to face her, stretching one arm along the back of the couch. "Don't worry. I only told him good stuff. That you're great at your job. That you're intelligent and funny. And beautiful." He paused, then added with a wider grin, "And, as I saw earlier, that you still have a great pair of legs."

"Jimmy!" Carolyn smacked Jim's shoulder. "You told your father that? You...you..."

Laughing with her, Jim held his hand up and waved the comments away. "No, not really. Just teasing."

Carolyn sighed and rolled her eyes. "You are something else, you know that?" Exasperated laughter snuck into her voice.

Looking downright unrepentant, Jim could only say, "So I've been told."

A moment of shared silence fell between them as their laughter died off. The abrupt "ready" signal of the coffeemaker broke into the quiet and startled them. Carolyn touched Jim's knee, then rose to her feet. "Be right back."

Jim watched her go, wondering at the comfortable rapport between them. It wasn't like this before. Who changed? Me? Her? Both of us? He leaned his head back and sighed. Blair's words to him several months ago just after he'd hung up from a particularly long phone call with Carolyn came to mind.

'You know what, Jim? If I didn't know better -- and maybe I don't -- I'd say you're courting your ex-wife.'

'Sandburg, you're imagining things. We're just friends.'

'You sure about that?'

~ring~ ~ring~

The jarring noise of a cellphone jerked him out of his thoughts. Moving forward and fumbling, he fished the imperiously ringing cellphone from his jacket pocket. Carolyn glanced over at him, but continued to make their coffee. The cat opened one lazy eye and slowly began to stretch her lithe body, rolling over to expose her tummy.

~ring~ ~ring~

"Ellison."

Blair's cheerful voice answered. "Hey, Jim. It's me."

"Chief. I was just thinking about you."

On the other end of the line, Blair laughed. "I'm touched."

"I'm sure you are."

"Ha-ha. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I'm gonna be late getting back tonight. There's this lecture and dinner thing I wanna go to and I don't know how long it's gonna last. Is that gonna be a problem?" The words rolled out in one long breath.

Jim shook his head. "No, that's fine. Go ahead." Next to him, Ellie rose and stretched some more before moving slowly towards him on dainty feet.

"You sure? I mean, are you gonna be okay by yourself?"

He rolled his eyes, a little amused at Blair's over-concern. "Yes, Sandburg, I'm sure. I'm a big boy. And it's not like I can't find ways to amuse myself without you being here to do it for me." He laughed, then looked down as his nose twitched. Ellie sat next to him, tailed curled around her feet, the tip flicking against the cushion.

"Funny, Jim." Blair was quiet a moment, then asked suspiciously, "You haven't gotten involved in some case or something, have you?"

"No, I haven't gotten involved in some SFPD case. Would I do that? Don't answer that."

Ellie shifted forward and lifted one paw. Jim's nose warned him of an approaching sneeze.

"Yeah, well..."

Standing quickly to avoid the cat, Jim interrupted Blair smoothly. "Sandburg, I'm fine. Go enjoy yourself at this anthro shindig thingy. Just be careful." He glared at the cat who almost seemed to be laughing at him before she purred contentedly and settled into the nicely warmed spot he'd just vacated. "And make sure to stumble in before noon tomorrow or I'm leaving you here and taking Carolyn back to Cascade with me." Before more than a loud indignant squawk of "Jim!" could echo across the line, Jim turned the phone off and stuffed it back into his pocket.

"Achoo!"

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

"Jim!"

The sound of a disconnecting click was the only response. Blair yanked the cellphone away from his ear and stared at it before snapping it shut.

Shaking his head, Blair put the phone away and headed back into the conference room currently occupied by a swarm (Jim's word) of anthropologists. Threatening to take Carolyn back to Cascade, Jim? Is that the Ellison version of courting? He chuckled to himself, then pushed those thoughts away for a later time as he rejoined his peers.

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

Carolyn looked up as Jim joined her in the kitchen. "I was just getting ready to bring these in." She gestured to the two mugs of coffee on the counter.

Jim jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "Ellie ousted me from my spot. I think she was laughing at me."

Laughing, Carolyn gave him one of the mugs. "That doesn't surprise me. She finds us humans particularly amusing. Or at least it seems that way."

"Hmm." Jim took a sip of the coffee to test the temperature, then a larger swallow. " Ah...wonderful. Just how I remembered. Thank you."

"You're welcome." Leaning against the counter, Carolyn simply held her mug between her hands. "So that was Sandburg on the phone?"

"Yeah. Wanted to let me know he's gonna be late tonight."

After a swallow of her own coffee, Carolyn tossed a grin at Jim. "I, uh, heard you say something about taking me back to Cascade with you."

Jim returned the smile with a chuckle. "It's a thought. You'd be a prettier seatmate; I wouldn't get strange looks when you fell asleep on my shoulder; I doubt you'd flirt with all the flight attendants--"

"--only the good-looking ones--"

Laughing, Jim took another swallow of coffee before finishing, "And Simon would be thrilled that I brought back his prized chief of forensics. Probably even give me a pay raise." His eyes sparkled with mischief.

She set down her mug and took a step closer to Jim, reaching out for his coffee. "Maybe I should take that back. You're starting to have delusions--"

"Mrroowwwww!"

Carolyn jumped as the plaintive and rather loud meow accompanied by the slither of Ellie's tail along her ankles surprised her, sending her crashing into Jim. Instinctively, Jim caught her around the waist with one arm and with the other hand held the mostly empty coffee mug away from both of them.

Hands clasped on Jim's coat as she regained her balance, Carolyn looked down to scowl at the feline sitting at their feet. "Ellie!"

Ellie only blinked innocently at them before lifting a paw to meticulously clean it.

"Sneaky little thing, isn't she?" Jim chuckled softly, most of his attention on Carolyn rather than the cat as he absently transferred the coffee mug from one hand to the other and then to the counter.

"It's her trademark." Carolyn sighed and lifted her head to meet Jim's eyes. Leaning back, hands still resting on Jim's chest, she blinked a few times upon finding Jim already watching her. "What?"

Jim didn't say anything at first, only raised one hand to tuck a few loose strands of Carolyn's hair behind her ear before trailing his hand down to her shoulder. Quietly, he asked, "Do you ever wonder...?" Swallowing hard, he hesitated, unsure of his words. About us? About what we had? About what could've been? About now? "...about what we're doing?"

Carolyn blinked again. "About what we're--" She paused, then smiled softly. "Oh. Sometimes. Why?"

"Sandburg thinks I'm courting you."

"Are you?"

The corners of his mouth lifted and he relaxed a little, relieved that Carolyn hadn't pulled away from him. "I don't know. I think..." Feelings tumbled into one another and the jumbled picture finally cleared enough for him to understand. Yes. He touched her face again, fingers cupping her cheek. "I think maybe I am." Jim moved inward, touching his lips to hers. The kiss was short and soft, barely lasting more than a few seconds before Jim pulled back. "Is that okay with you?" Uncertain of her reaction, he waited for a response.

Carolyn's eyes fluttered open and she smiled. "It's okay."

At their feet, Ellie meowed again in query, then sauntered away from the oblivious-to-her-charms humans.

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

"So how was it?"

"How was what, Chief?" Jim glanced over at Blair as he adjusted his seatbelt to the proper tightness.

Blair waved a hand in the air. "Your little tête-à-tête with Carolyn. What happened?"

Jim's smile widened, but he only closed his eyes and relaxed backwards into airplane seat. "Put your seatbelt on, Chief, and stop fidgeting."

"Jim...c'mon!"

"Unlike you, Junior, I do not kiss and tell."

Blair fell silent and Jim sighed in contentment, mentally fiddling with the dials to prepare for takeoff and being stuck in an enclosed space for several hours with too many people. He'd reached a nice state of half-awareness that always seemed to work the best for him when Blair spoke up again, his voice sounding amused and curious...and somewhat smug.

"So there was kissing?"

- The End -

Additional Link: Alternate Kiss Scene