Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Humor
Summary: The black silk boxers are missing, and Jim thinks he knows whodunit. Or does he? Rated PG for a bad word and for being about underwear.
Written for Becky, Iris, and CT. Feedback always welcome.
References to Mrs. Danbush's Hot Summer Day and Becky's A Good Night's Rest.
Disclaimer: Jim, Blair, and their underwear don't belong to me. No copyright infringement or boxer theft is intended.
The Purloined Pair of Underwear
It was going to be a beautiful day.
Jim Ellison sighed as he indulged himself with a few extra seconds of standing under the hot shower stream, then turned off the flow of water.
Yes, it was a beautiful day, Jim decided as he toweled dry and wrapped the extra-long, fluffy blue Egyptian cotton towel around his waist, reaching for his razor and then his toothbrush. Outside, the sun was shining for the first time in days upon a vividly sparkling azure bay. The air was crisp with just a hint of the promise of spring to come. He had the day off. An old friend was coming to visit Cascade, just to see him. His roommate had left the loft clean and neat with a refrigerator stocked full of wonderful things to cook and eat. The laundry was done. The truck was newly washed and vacuumed.
Sandburg was the most wonderful roommate.
If the day got any better than it already was, he might have to cry.
Exiting the steamy bathroom, Jim leisurely strolled to the stairs, stopping by the stereo on the way to put on some relaxing jazz music. Climbing the stairs to his bedroom, he shamelessly enjoyed the warm rays pouring through the windows and onto his freshly washed skin, feeling glad the loft was, at the moment, empty of a certain anthropologist who would have surely noticed the stupid smile on his face and commented unnecessarily on his self-pampering behavior.
Opening one of the top drawers in his dresser while humming to himself, Jim reached in and pulled out his pair of--
His pair of --
It couldn't be.
They were right here... weren't they?
He pawed through the drawer faster, his movements displaying frustration now. There were only plaid ones, a gray knit pair, a dark green pair, even a navy blue pair, but not the ones he was looking for.
After going over the drawer's contents ten times and effectively destroying any last shred of organization, Jim growled. His black silk boxers were nowhere to be found.
Sandburg was a dead man.
The hamper in the bathroom. All the drawers in Blair's dresser. Under Blair's dresser. Back to all the drawers in his dresser. Under his dresser. Under his bed. God forbid, under Blair's bed. He found some bizarre things -- artifacts, he hoped, which he quickly shoved back out of sight -- under that scary place but no boxers. Everywhere Jim looked, his black boxers weren't. Needless to say, the man was aggravated. Jim Ellison always knew where each of his belongings, underwear included, were located. That could only mean one thing. Sandburg must have... Jim's eyes squeezed shut and his jaw clenched at the thought...
The black silk boxers sat in the dark, neat drawer, perfectly folded next to Jim's other boxers. They was always on the right side, right where Jim could find them at all times.
They were alone.
Blair burst through the empty loft's front door. The sky had decided to downpour the last few blocks between the grocery store and 852 Prospect, and he'd slipped and fallen in a puddle in front of the apartment building, completely soaking himself to the bone. Teeth chattering, he deposited a soggy bag of groceries on the kitchen island and began stripping and peeling the wet shirt and pants from his body on the way to the bathroom. Emerging from the bathroom with one towel around his waist and using another to dry his dripping hair, he ran into his bedroom and yanked open a drawer in search of dry underwear and socks.
All his boxers must be in the laundry, which he was going to do tonight.
Blair looked up, wondering what to do. He had a date in 5 minutes -- certainly not long enough to do a load. He briefly considered blow-drying the wet pair but decided against it. You couldn't wear crunchy boxers on a date. Bad karma. Then his eyes brightened.
There was another place he could get a nice clean, dry pair of underwear.
He pulled on a dry shirt. In a flash, the anthropologist at the top of the stairs.
Jim's top drawer was opened and a hand reached inside, grasping soft, supple black silk.
The doorbell rang and he heard a feminine voice calling his name. He had to hurry.
A damp towel landed on Jim's yellow comforter as Sandburg...
Jim jerked himself from his thoughts. It was too disturbing to go on. There was only one thing to do. Call Sandburg and give him a piece of his mind about respecting other people's property.
"Your what?" Blair answered after a slight pause.
Jim could hear crowds of people talking in the background. Blair had taken Kimberly, Jim's 7 year-old niece, to the Cascade Science Museum. He was going to give Sandburg a chance to fess up before he switched to full-on interrogation tactics. "My black boxers," Jim continued, trying to mask the impatience he felt. "Do you know where they are?"
"Lost your lucky boxers, did you?" Blair's tone didn't hide his amusement very well.
"I don't have lucky boxers," Jim said, annoyed.
Blair chuckled low and soft. "Of course you don't."
Jim decided he hated that... that stupid chuckle. "YOU have lucky boxers, Sandburg. I do not."
"Whatever you say."
Jim growled. "Do you know where they are or not?!?" he demanded.
"Sorry, man, but I don't," Blair said. "Kimberly, don't run off yet. I'm talking to Uncle Jim, okay?"
"Are you sure?" Jim pressured.
"Yes, I'm sure," said Blair. "Why would I know where they were?"
"Because you did the laundry last, Sandburg."
"No, you did. I was at the university Saturday night, remember?"
Blair snickered. "Which ones are you wearing now?"
"The gray ones."
"What's wrong with those?"
"Nothing. That's not the point!" Jim blurted. "I like knowing where my stuff is, that's all."
"Uh-huh," Blair said, unconvinced.
"Uncle Jim lost his pants?" Kimberly said in the background.
Jim ignored the comment and Sandburg's further snickering. "Are you sure you don't know where they are?"
"Okay, fine. I pawned them at shop down the street," said Blair sarcastically. "Satisfied?"
Jim growled again. "You did not," he contradicted.
"I used them to dust the living room?"
"I needed a piece of silk so I cut them up and used them for a magic show?"
Jim growled again. Obviously, he was going to have to ask Sandburg point-blank. "Did you borrow them?"
"Of course not!" Blair almost shouted, exasperated. "I'd never go commando in another man's fatigues!"
Jim rolled his eyes. "Fine. I believe you."
"Finally," said Blair. "Keep looking -- you'll find them," he encouraged. "Did you look in the dryer downstairs? Maybe you left them in there. They're such a dark color, maybe they got missed in the back."
"I do NOT lose underwear."
"Hey, man, if the boxers fit..."
"And if you can't find them," Blair offered, "I can always call Simon and have him put an A.P.B. out on them."
Jim 'hmphed' and hung up. The dryer. Why didn't he think of that?
Jim stared into the dark recesses of the dryer's charcoal gray drum, but his acute vision immediately told him there were no missing boxers inside. Even so, he reached inside and felt around.
No cigar. Er, boxers.
He scanned the basement laundry room, even gave it a once-over, but his search again yielded nothing. He had been going over the possibilities in his mind and had come to the conclusion that as Sandburg had said, the dryer was the most likely place they could have been lost. Now he was more convinced than ever that the boxers had been taken.
A rustling noise and a smell which made his nose itch caused Jim to turn his head toward the laundry room door.
A fat, orange-striped feline stood at the door. Waving its tail slowly as it sidled up along side the ajar door, it gazed condescendingly at the tall man.
"Well, if it isn't the overstuffed hairball himself," Jim muttered.
The cat smiled at him.
Jim's eyes narrowed.
The black silk boxers sat in the dark, warm dryer, cozied up against a pile of flannel shirts.
They were alone.
The dryer door opened, flooding the blackness with light. Arms reached in, gathering the clothes around them, but their silky slipperiness kept them from staying within the person's grasp. They fell back into the dryer. The dryer door shut, but not all the way.
Patiently, the boxers waited to be rescued. Minutes passed. Hours. The dryer was getting cold. Then, finally, the sound of feet padding outside echoed in the laundry room and the dryer door swung open again.
Two green eyes set in a furry orange face peered in, followed by a reaching, sweeping, scooping paw.
Ouch! Those claws! Snagging, ripping, tearing! Ouch!
They were on the cold concrete floor now in a disheveled heap, then being nibbled by pointy teeth. Ick! Wetness! The furry thing was carrying them in its mouth!
Scenery flashed by, unlike any the boxers had ever seen, until the jaws rudely deposited it in a corner on top of a pile of old smelly blankets.
Two paws were padding, stroking, kneading it now into a nice... bed? Argh! More snags! Why wasn't Jim here to save it? Why wasn't he here to stop this... this violation of its rights?
The fat orange cat sighed and stretched its fat orange body, positioning its pendulous belly over its newly luxurious bed. It yawned...
Horrified, Jim stared at the cat. The cat looked away and pointed its nose in the air, then minced out.
"Hey! Get back here, you overweight fleabag! Gimme my shorts back!" Jim yelled heatedly, forgetting that the neighbors might be listening. The cat ran on and he pursued it. Up two flights of stairs and down a long hallway, to a green door with a swinging cat door cut out of it. It sure ran fast for a fat thing.
D*mn. The cat had escaped, like it always knew it would.
He looked up at the apartment number.
His poised fist froze in midair just before it could knock. 207 was Mrs. MacKenzie's apartment. Dear Mrs. MacKenzie and that leering woman, Mrs. -- he could hardly bear to think her name -- Mrs. Elizabeth Danbush.
Stupid cat. It didn't even belong to them!
Inside, he heard old ladyish cooing and fur-stroking going on, and the rattle of those horrible-smelling Tender Vittles in an old, equally smelly Tupperware container.
Then he heard scratching on the door and more old lady voices.
"What is it, Master Chester?"
Jim rolled his eyes at the name for a split second before he heard the doorknob rattling. He turned to run but it was too late.
Two white-haired old ladies stood at the door, peeking out. "Detective Ellison?" "James!" they said in unison.
"Uh, h-hi Mrs. MacKenzie, Mrs. Dnbsh," he stuttered, muttering the latter name.
"Can we help you, young man?" Mrs. MacKenzie asked kindly.
"Yes -- do come in," Mrs. Danbush invited. She winked at Jim.
"Oh, no thank you," Jim rushed on. "I'm sorry to disturb you, ladies. I have to get back to my apartment."
"Now James, you couldn't have been standing at our door for no reason, now could you?" said Mrs. MacKenzie.
"Yes -- yes, I could," Jim said. "Now, if you'll excuse me..."
The cat looked out from behind Mrs. Danbush and smiled at Jim again, then proceeded to rub its big fat head up against Mrs. Danbush's leg. The old woman looked down and tittered. She looked back up at Jim with a mischievous expression. "Did you lose something, my boy? Hmm?"
Jim's eyes got bigger and more scared than they'd ever been in his life.
The black silk boxers sat in the middle of a pile of floral, old-ladyish smelling house dresses and lingerie. It had finally been rescued from the empty, dark, cold dryer and was bumping along up the stairs in a strange, pink plastic laundry basket. It didn't recognize any of the clothes it was with, either. Especially those things that looked like two big flabby cups connected together with lace on the outside.
They felt alone.
The laundry basket was being carried into a room filled with a choking array of floral perfume, moth balls, and suffocatingly warm air. The other clothes were being lifted off and presumably folded as the two old ladies chattered away. Then one of them gasped.
"Betty, you shouldn't --"
It was too late. The boxers had been seized by soft, wrinkly old hands and were being held up as if on display. The boxers were feeling very, very vulnerable. The old ladies were giggling now.
"These must belong to that luscious James Ellison from 307!"
"We have to give them back!"
"Not so fast, Gertie. Ooh, these feel so... soft... against my face..."
"Stop it, Elizabeth!" the other old lady protested, but she could hardly stop giggling.
"I'll give them back, of course. After I try them on."
<gasp> "Elizabeth! Have you been drinking in the morning again?" Mrs. MacKenzie demanded.
"I haven't lived this many years to pass up an opportunity like this, girl."
"You'll stretch the waistband out!"
"No, I won't. I've been on a diet..."
Jim gulped and blinked at the old ladies, then avoided eye contact with the winking one. This was bad. Really bad. This was worse than the boy downstairs using them for a wind-sock on the roof. Worse than Blair giving them to Rafe and Henri to polish their new roadster. Worse than Chester using them for a bed. Worse than any other scenario his overactive imagination could possibly think of.
"Did you lose something, dear? Is that it? Perhaps we could help you look for it," Mrs. MacKenzie was asking again.
"He did lose something. I can see it in his eyes," Mrs. Danbush declared.
"I... well..." Jim stuttered, but he couldn't bring himself to lie to two little old ladies, even if one of them had a hormone imbalance. "I... I lost some clothes in the dryer, that's all."
"See? I knew it," Mrs. Danbush said. "What kind of clothes, James?" she purred.
Jim cleared his throat. He hadn't felt this embarrassed since he got caught putting gum on Mindy Hutchinson's chair in second grade. "Under...clothes?" he finished weakly.
"You mean boxers. You look like a silk boxers kind of man," Mrs. Danbush declared. "Now curly-haired Blair, he's more of a soft cotton kind of guy. Ow!" she exclaimed as her roommate jabbed her with an elbow.
"I'm sorry, Detective, but we haven't seen any of your boxers," said Mrs. MacKenzie. "But if we do," she said while looking sternly and meaningfully at her friend, "we'll be sure to let you know right away. Won't we, Elizabeth?"
Mrs. Danbush smiled. "Of course, we will, James," she said, winking again.
"Thanks," Jim blurted.
Then he turned and ran.
A voice called down the hall after him. "If you ever need any of them darned, just let me know..."
Jim shut the loft door behind him a little too hard, leaning against it for a few seconds as if to make sure it was securely shut. This morning, which had started out so beautifully, had turned into one of the most annoying, disturbing mornings in recent history. He growled to himself, thinking about how much of his precious day off had been wasted in a futile search for his belongings.
He made his way to the refrigerator. Perhaps a snack would improve things. His hand on the handle, Jim paused as he considered a post-it note on the refrigerator, written in his own hand.
Alaska Airlines #1052
His eyes darted to the kitchen clock.
Thoughts of a snack and missing underwear forgotten, Jim lunged for the door, grabbing his leather jacket and keys. In the next minute, screeching rubber echoed down Prospect as the pickup tore out of its parking spot and headed for Cascade International Airport.
~ What Really Happened ~
The black silk boxers sat in the dark, cold dryer. They had been cleaned, dried, and waiting there for two days now -- waiting for their owner to rescue them. They were starting to wonder if he really cared about them at all.
They were alone.
The dryer door opened, flooding the blackness with light. A furry paw reached in, sweeping them out onto the dirty cold concrete floor. A purr emitted from Chester as the orange cat picked the silk boxers up in his mouth and trotted up the stairs to his favorite old ladies. He had a feeling that this prize would be worth a LOT of Tender Vittles.
He leapt -- make that squeezed -- through the swinging cat door as gracefully as his obese body could.
On a feline hunch, he decided to take his prize to Mrs. Danbush, depositing it at her feet and looking expectantly up at her.
Mrs. Danbush gasped, slowly picking up the boxers as if they were liable to break or disappear. "Well, look what you brought in today!" she almost shrieked in delight. "This is much better than the dead rat you brought over last time."
The old woman ran her hands over the soft, worn-in silk and admired their lustrous sheen and fine hand. She was glad Gertie was gone to her senior citizen league, because she surely would have made herself give them back immediately. Mrs. Danbush, however, intended to keep them for a while... to admire, anyway. Besides, she'd have to rewash them after Chester had put his cat saliva on them. She'd do it by hand, with Woollite. She'd check for any teeth marks and snags that might need repairing...
Uh-oh. The door was opening. Gertie was back.
Mrs. Danbush stuffed the hot pair of underwear in her sewing basket and picked up her knitting.
Mrs. MacKenzie closed the door after their retreating next door neighbor had left. "Jim Ellison is one nice gentleman, but he sure acts strangely sometimes," she said, shaking her head.
The other old lady had already gone back to tossing a few more Tender Vittles on the ground for Chester to chase. "Strange or not, James Ellison is positively divine. I want to know what he likes, what he doesn't like, and all about his little strange quirks. All of them," she giggled as she sat down on the window seat overlooking Prospect.
Her friend joined her and both women watched as a blue-and-white pickup tore out of the parking lot and down the street, tires squealing.
"He sure is in a hurry all of a sudden," commented Mrs. MacKenzie.
"I love it when he does that," sighed Mrs. Danbush.
Not two minutes later, a car stopped directly below their apartment building. The old ladies watched as a well-dressed woman stepped out of the yellow taxi and took her Pullman from the cabbie.
Mrs. Danbush growled. "If it isn't Carolyn Plummer."
"I haven't seen her in years, Betty," said Mrs. MacKenzie. "How do you know it's her?"
"I saw her and James's wedding picture in an old newspaper down at the public library," Mrs. Danbush replied, tight-lipped. "I thought that little missie had gone to San Francisco for good."
"Maybe she just dropped by to say hello to an old friend," suggested the other old lady.
"With a suitcase? I think not. Besides, she's a fool if she doesn't want that fine piece of manhood back."
Mrs. MacKenzie sighed. "If they're still friends, I'm happy for them. If they get back together, I'm happy for them."
"Well, I just think she should know what she's getting herself back into," sputtered Mrs. Danbush. "After all, James Ellison is a very strange man." Reaching down, she pulled a pair of neatly folded black boxers from her sewing basket and handed them to Mrs. MacKenzie.
Mrs. MacKenzie gasped. "Betty! Are these--"
"Never mind, Gertrude. I want you to throw these out the window."
"ELIZABETH! What on earth did you say????"
Mrs. Danbush was shrugging on her coat. "Don't ask questions, Gertrude. I'm going downstairs and I promise to see that James gets his boxers back today, right now. Just do it!"
"I--" Mrs. MacKenzie began, but her friend was out the door. The old woman hesitated, but having stolen property in her apartment made her decidedly uncomfortable. She opened the window and tossed the pair out.
The black silk boxers floated gently down to the sidewalk which had started to dampen with rain. An old man passed by walking his dog, and the canine left footprints on them. A boy riding his bicycle ran over them.
Carolyn turned and proceeded to walk up the sidewalk to Jim's building. It was unusual for Jim to forget to pick someone up at the airport, and even more unusual that he hadn't answered his cellphone when she had tried to call. Lost in her thoughts, she almost ran into a little old lady.
"I'm so sorry, ma'am -- I didn't see you."
"Oh, don't worry, honey," said Mrs. Danbush, smiling sweetly. The old woman looked down at the sidewalk and frowned. She leaned down and, using two fingers, picked up a black pair of what appeared to be a pair of dirty boxers. She regarded the underwear with a look of distaste and shook her head. "That Jim Ellison. Will he ever learn to be neat?"
"You think this belongs to Jim?" asked Carolyn doubtfully.
"Oh, believe me, it's not the first time," Mrs. Danbush said. "Seems like I'm always finding his clothes on the street." With that, she turned and walked back into the building, still shaking her head and leaving Carolyn holding the dirty piece of clothing.
Dumbfounded, Carolyn simply stood there for a few seconds. Jim had certainly acquired some bizarre neighbors. She was about to deposit the underwear in the sidewalk garbage can when she heard someone call her name.
"Carolyn?" Blair pushed the Volvo's door shut and walked up the sidewalk to meet her. "I thought Jim was picking you up at the airport. What happened?"
"I don't know -- he never showed up," Carolyn answered as Blair took her suitcase from her. "I thought he might be with you. I tried calling him but got no answer."
"That's weird," said Blair. "I talked to him less than an hour ago and he was in the loft. What is that?" he said, pointing to the dirty item still in her hands.
Carolyn looked down and laughed. "Oh! Some old lady picked them up off the sidewalk and gave them to me. She thought they belonged to Jim," she laughed again. "As if Jim would ever lose track of his black boxers. He used to call them his lucky pair."
She started to throw them in the garbage can when Blair stopped her.
"Wait! You never know..." the anthropologist said.
30 minutes later...
A damp, tired-from-running-through-the-airport-terminal detective opened the door to the loft, apologizing before he'd stepped two feet into the apartment. "I am so sorry Carolyn, I completely lost track of time, I drove to the airport as fast as I could but you were already gone... Where's Carolyn?" he said, looking around the room. "She's here, isn't she?"
"Yes, she's here. She's in the bathroom," Blair said as he handed Jim a cup of steaming coffee and motioned him to go sit on the couch. "Don't worry, man. We found them," he winked.
Blair clapped his hand on the taller man's shoulder and chuckled. "I never did think of you as a litterer."
"What are you talking about?" Jim demanded, even more confused.
Blair picked up a stack of books and headed for his room. "Let's just say you have some explaining to do."
Jim stood when he saw Carolyn coming. "Carolyn, I--"
"It's okay, Jim," she smiled. "I heard it all in there." She handed him a pair of dirt-streaked, cat-hair-embedded, damp black boxers and tried not to laugh at Jim's open-mouthed, red-faced expression.
"Lose something, Jimmy?"