Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Humor

Summary: Rhonda asks for a favor from Blair, and he agrees. And it only goes downhill from there, at least from Jim's point-of-view. Pre-TSbyBS.

This was something I have sorta been wanting to do for a little bit. And when I mentioned it to Robyn a bit ago, we thought up all sorts of ideas I could use in it. I wanted to do some humor again since I hadn't done any in quite some time. And since I like to pick on Jim...well, read and see.

Volvo Stuffing
by Becky
June 1999

"I'm not gonna fit back there, Sandburg." Jim glared at his grinning partner. "Now gimme the keys." He made a snatch for them, but Blair danced agilely backwards, evading the sentinel's grasp.

"Ah-ah-ah." Blair shook his finger in the air. "No way, Jim. No way are you driving my car. The last time you drove it, it was during the MacKenzie case. It was in the shop for two weeks after that."

Jim grumbled. "Is it my fault they had a getaway car?"

"No. But I keep telling you this is not a pursuit vehicle." He pointed toward the Volvo and the shoved-forward driver's seat. "Jim..."

"Oh, Jimbo, will you just get in the bloody car already?"

Pivoting, Jim glowered at the Australian inspector -- standing safely on the other side of the Volvo. "Did I ask for your help on this?"

Megan lifted an eyebrow then looked at Blair. "Is he always this stubborn, Sandy?"

Blair shrugged, stifled laughter twitching up the corners of his lips. "Only on his good days." He paused, then added, "Usually he's worse."

"Sandburg!"

"Ellison!" Blair parroted back at him. "Just get in car, Jim. We've been debating this long enough. In! Sooner we get going, the sooner you unfold those lanky limbs of yours again." He waved a hand toward the car door. "Come on, time's a-wasting. I've got things to do, papers to grade, females to charm..."

"...guides to kill..." Jim muttered under his breath as he ducked into the back seat of the Volvo.

"I heard that, Jim. Love you too." Blair momentarily stuck his head in the back of the car to peek at Jim. "'Comfy? Good." He straightened the driver's seat and slid inside as Megan did likewise on the passenger side. Car doors slammed shut in unison, rocking the small car once.

Megan turned her head, smiling sweetly at him. "Don't forget to buckle up, Jim."

Jim smiled insincerely back at her, then shifted and fumbled around for the seatbelt, succeeding in scraping the knuckles of one hand and knocking his head on the car roof as he did. His knees pressed into the back of the driver's seat before he managed to resettle himself.

"Hey! No kicking the seat back there."

"I--" Jim bit off the rest of the sentence and shoved his knees into the seat back again, adding a shove with one hand for good measure. "You stuff me back here like a pretzel, I can kick all I want, Chief. Deal with it."

"Yeah, yeah." Blair met his eyes in the rearview mirror. "Just remember who's gotta help you out of there later, Pretzel Boy."

Megan laughed as Blair waggled his eyebrows. Jim just glared at him, then sighed, a smile touching his lips. Even he had to admit this was too amusing for words. "Can we go already?"

"Yes, sir, Pretzel Boy..."

"Sandburg..." Jim growled.

Blair chuckled and started up the car, revving the engine a few times, then backed the Volvo out of the parking space deftly. As they exited the parking lot and joined the traffic on the street, Jim glanced over at the passenger next to him in the back seat. Two wide green eyes stared back at him. Shaking his head and reaching over to check the safety belt, Jim said softly, "I could say this was all your fault, you know, but..." He trailed off and risked a glance forward. "But I think I'd rather blame my partner and his soft heart. Throw a female in distress at him and he melts."

In front of him, he heard Megan chortling and Blair huffing indignantly under his breath.

Jim just laughed and smiled into those wide green eyes. "Yep, melts all over the place..."

***************************
A bit earlier...
***************************

"....Yeah, Simon, they're bringing him back now...."

Jim watched as two uniform cops dealt with the suspect, handcuffing him and stuffing into the back of their squad car. A squeal of metal from behind him made him turned, and he winced as he watched the tow truck guys hook his truck up to theirs. He pulled the phone away from his mouth and yelled to them... "Be careful, huh? That's a police vehicle." One of the guys waved a hand at him, but didn't look up from his work. Sighing, Jim returned his attention to Simon's voice over the cellphone.

"What?...Yeah, both front tires blown out and the windshield cracked. Our guy put up quite a chase....No, no, that's okay -- I called Sandburg. His class is finished, so he said he'd come get me before he went home to get ready for his, and I quote 'sizzling hot date', end of quote. He should be here any minute." He glanced at his watch, then heard the familiar sounds of Blair's Volvo from around the corner. He turned and saw his partner's green car heading toward him. "In fact, here he is now. See you back at the station, Simon."

Snapping the phone shut, Jim stepped closer to the curb as Blair pulled the Volvo to a stop next to him. Rolling down the window, Blair peered up at him from over his sunglasses.

"Hey, Chief, thanks for coming."

Blair nodded, his eyes flickering to the squad car, then back at Jim. "No problem. I thought you were just running down 'probably nowhere' leads today."

Resting one arm on the top of the Volvo, Jim leaned down a little. "I was. He popped up unexpectantly." He jerked a thumb at the squad car where Jim's top suspect in their current case sat, shifting between shooting dark glares at Jim and moping.

Blair glanced toward Jim's truck as the last adjustments were being made to the towing assembly. "Doesn't look like he was too happy to see you, Detective Ellison."

Jim snorted. "No kidding. Guns and a tire iron can do an amazing amount of damage." He sighed mournfully, then slapped his hand on the roof of the car. "Anyway, I just need a quick ride back to the station." He jogged around the car and waited for Blair to stretch across to unlock the door before he slipped into the passenger seat. "Oof. I always forget how low this thing of yours is." Shoving the backpack around next to his feet, he managed to get a little more comfortable.

Blair laughed. "Hey, don't knock it, man. I can always get you a taxi."

The detective held up a hand. "Nope. This is fine, thank you very much."

"Buckle up, partner. Here we go."

Jim fumbled for the belt as Blair pulled away from the curb and did a neat three-point turn to head back to the station. "Hold on there, Mario."

"Time waits for no man, Jim, especially not the old and slow."

The seatbelt snapped into place just as Blair stopped at a stop sign. Jim braced himself on the dashboard and threw a quick glare at his partner. "Watch who you're calling old, Junior. I can still whip you at one-on-one."

The younger man flashed a toothy grin at him. "At the first game, yeah. But not during the second or third, man. Got you there."

Shoving down the amusement at Blair's obvious very good mood, Jim waved a hand in the air. "Just...just drive, Sandburg. I'll deal with you later."

"Yeah, yeah, that's what you always say."

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

Halfway back to the station, Blair's cellphone started to ring from the depths of his backpack. He glanced over at Jim. "Could you get that, Jim?"

Already in the process of dragging Blair's pack into his lap, Jim only nodded as he unzipped it and proceeded to shuffle through the papers and notebooks inside. "Where--? Oh, never mind, here it is, buried under half the paper supply of the Pacific Northwest." He pulled the phone out as it rang again and held it out to Blair.

"No, that'd be your desk, Jim." Blair took the phone and flipped it open, answering, "Blair Sandburg..."

Jim rolled his eyes and turned to watch the scenery go by, leaving his partner to his phone conversation. Blair's voice wafted past him, a comfortable background noise.

"...Oh, hey, Rhonda, how're you doing?....Yeah.....Yeah.....Ooh, that doesn't sound too good....Oh, sure, sure, uh, only I'm supposed to swing by the station to drop Jim off...."

Jim frowned and looked at Blair. Their eyes met for a moment, then Blair returned his attention to the road, negotiating through traffic as he continued the conversation.

"Oh, he did? Okay, we'll stop by on the way there....Yeah, I know where it is." Blair shifted to look in the rearview mirror, then out the windows as he quickly changed lanes.

Jim's frown deepened. "Sandburg, what--?"

Blair ignored him, still talking into the phone. "No, no, I'll tell him.....Uh, room? Yeah, I think we'll manage. If not, there's always trunk space....." He laughed again, glancing over at Jim. "No, not really. Okay. Oh, do I need a password or anything?...." Blair grinned, his eyes sparkling. "Got it.....Yeah, see you in a bit, Rhonda." He clicked off the phone and handed it to Jim. "Thanks."

Jim stared at the phone a minute, then dropped it back into the pack's overcluttered interior. "You gonna tell me what that was all about? And where are we going?" He rezipped the pack and placed it back at his feet.

Flipping on his right hand turn signal, Blair checked the mirrors as he answered. "Rhonda asked me to pick up Thomas at the daycare center. Her husband's out of town, and no one's home at her sister's place. She can't leave the office right now -- Simon needs her to stay for some big thing. Megan volunteered to pick him up, but she got there and her car stalled out in the parking lot and won't start up again."

Jim muttered, "Probably scared it to death driving on the wrong side of the road."

Blair shook his head. "Funny, Jim. Megan's getting better. Give her time. Anyway, to make a long story short, Rhonda asked me to pick up Thomas on the way back to the station."

Lifting a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose, Jim sighed. "Sandburg, I told Simon--"

"No worries there, man. Simon knows. He said it was more important to keep his assistant happy than to have you warming your chair doing paperwork." Blair chuckled. "After all, detectives can be replaced. Good executive assistants can't! 'Sides, I thought you said Thomas was cute."

"From afar, Chief. I'm not a baby person." Jim stared glumly out the window as Blair maneuvered the Volvo into the daycare parking lot. He spotted Megan outside, leaning against her car, obviously enjoying the pleasantly warm spring afternoon while waiting for them.

Blair made a buzzer noise. "Wrong! I've seen you with Steven's kids, Jim. Not gonna make me believe that one. Try again." He parked next to Megan's car and turned off the engine.

Jim opened his mouth to say something, but changed his mind. "Never mind. Let's just get the kid and go. I have an appointment to keep with several case files on my desk and a 'chair-warming' session to attend." He opened his door and pulled himself out, stretching to relieve his cramped leg muscles. He stepped aside and closed the door, watching over the top of the car as Blair, grinning in the afternoon sun, bounced out and said hi to Megan. Jim strolled around to join them as they headed for the front door of the center.

"So what'd you do to your car, Conner?" Jim asked, a bright smile on his face.

Megan paused at the door of the center and looked at him. "Well, if you must know, Jim, it hasn't been quite the same since last Thursday."

Jim frowned. "Last Thursday? Why then?"

She raised an eyebrow. "You borrowed it for a high speed chase through half of Cascade."

"Oh." Memory of the chase filtered through his mind. "Oh, yeah, I did, didn't I?"

On Megan's other side, Blair slapped himself in the forehead. "You let Jim drive your car?!? Oh, man. No wonder it died on you. Talk about bad karma..." He grabbed the door handle and pulled open the glass door. "Let me get that for you."

Megan inclined her head and entered the building. Blair threw an amused glance at Jim and bounded in after her.

Jim stood on the front step for several long moments, then stared up at the sky. "What is this? Pick on Ellison Day?" With a growl, he yanked open the door and followed his too-happy partner and Megan inside.

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

By the time Jim entered the center, the other two had vanished somewhere into the depths of the building. Jim fought to keep his nose from wrinkling as the scents of all things baby assaulted him. With a quick mental click, he turned everything down, then approached the front counter where two young women were working.

"Excuse me, uh, hi." He pasted a friendly smile on his face. "My two friends just came in here. Could you tell me which way they went? They're picking up Thomas."

One of the workers looked up from writing something in a folder. She needlessly brushed back a strand of short brown hair behind one ear and exchanged a quick look with the other woman before fixing her blue eyes on Jim, assessing him silently. Finally, she asked, "Do you have the password?"

"Password? I don't--" He remembered Blair mentioning 'password' in his brief conversation with Rhonda. He ground his teeth when he realized Blair had neglected to tell him what the password was before abandoning him outside. "Look..." He hesitated, hot having her name.

"Joanna."

"Joanna. My name is Jim Ellison." He pulled out his badge to show her. "I'm a detective at Cascade PD. Rhonda, Thomas' mother, works for my captain."

"That's all well and good, sir. But do you know the password?" Joanna smiled patiently.

"The password. Right."

A stifled laugh got his attention and he looked past the front counter area to see Megan leaning against the hallway wall, one hand covering her mouth as she tried not to laugh.

"Conner--" He tried not to growl, but it didn't work very well, so he tried again. "Megan, could you please tell these nice folks that--"

Megan interrupted, shoving away from the wall. "You don't have to worry about Jimbo, girls. He's safe. Around children, that is. Just don't let him near your cars." She turned and disappeared back down the hall.

Joanna nodded congenially and waved Jim past. Jim smiled at her once, then made his way around the counter, heading for the hallway, glaring in the direction the female inspector had gone. Just as he entered the hallway, his sensitive hearing picked up Joanna's quiet whisper to the other woman.

"He's pretty cute too, Cami."

"He's not just cute. He's gorgeous! Wonder if the PD has any promotional items they'd like to part with..."

The two women giggled softly.

Jim felt his ears burning, but he refused to turn around. He rubbed his forehead, wondering if he should just go back outside, maybe wait in or near the car. But then he shook his head -- he didn't want to leave his partner and Megan alone any more than necessary. Who knew what evil plots they'd think up?

Shivering at the thought, Jim walked down the brightly-colored hallway filled with children's hand paintings, pictures of animals, a few lonely toys, and the occasional misplaced shoe. He bypassed a several partially open doors, following the echo of his guide's heartbeat and soft voice. Somewhere at the end of the hallway, he could hear Blair cooing at some baby, probably Thomas, as they prepared him for going home.

Jim came to a halt near an open door and peered inside to see Blair and Megan talking to one of the childcare workers. Blair held Thomas in his arms like a professional, gently moving back and forth, rocking the baby. Blair noticed him standing just outside the door and called out softly, "Be there in a minute, Jim." Smiling in fond bemusement, Jim nodded and stepped away from the door, thinking to lean up against the wall to wait.

"...and then the poky little puppy..."

The soft voice came from behind him. Curious, Jim turned to look in the opposite room in the hallway. Inside he saw another young woman, sitting cross-legged on the ground on a round carpet. A child sat on each side of her, leaning inwards to look at the book she held. Another child sat in her lap, one finger pointing at the pictures in the book. Entranced by the picture they presented to his admittedly soft heart, Jim leaned against the doorjamb, smiling and listening.

The young woman paused, her eyes flickering upward at him momentarily. He waved a hand at her, motioning for her to keep reading. After a moment, she did so, sliding back into her quiet storytelling with ease. Jim closed his eyes a moment, letting the words of the familiar story wash over him. He remembered it -- remembered his mother reading it to him when he was very little, before she and his father began to grow apart. Shaking the melancholy thoughts from his mind, he opened his eyes and let them wander around the room, drawn by the crayon-colored pictures on the walls and soft plush toys scattered around the floor.

Jim touched one of the pictures taped to the door, feeling the bumps and waxy texture of the crayon under his sensitive fingertips as he slid along the line of color. The scent and feel created a wave of nostalgia for the innocence of childhood in him. He'd had to grow up so fast, especially after his mother had left...

Something tugged at his pant leg, jerking him back to the real world. Jim shifted and looked down to see one of the children, a little girl with wide, dark brown eyes and curly brown hair. One thumb was secured in her mouth while the other hand wrapped itself firmly around his chinos. He smiled at her, saying softly, "Hi there."

After giving her thumb a few more sucks, she pulled it out, released his pant leg, and lifted both arms toward him. "Up."

"Up?" He frowned a little, puzzled at the one-word statement.

"Up," she repeated in her little voice. She strained her arms upwards, reaching for him.

"Oh. Up." He glanced around, noticing the woman had finished her story and was just watching him.

She nodded at him after a moment, saying quietly, "Joy just wants to say hi."

"Up." Joy's tone got a little more persistent.

Chuckling softly, Jim crouched down in front of the little girl, resting with one knee on the ground. "Up, huh? How 'bout I come down? Will that work?"

Joy grew suddenly shy, ducking her head and twisting one hand in her little blue dress, stepping back a few feet.

"Joy -- that's a very pretty name. My name's Jim."

The little girl giggled once, still staring at him. Jim shifted to stand again, but Joy stepped back up to him, reaching up to pat his cheek.

"Are you sad?"

Jim blinked. "Am I sad?" He shook his head, pushing the small bits of melancholy that said otherwise. "No, I'm not sad. Just...thinking."

Joy patted his cheek again, then moved closer, stretching up to wrap her arms around his neck. Hesitating only a moment, Jim returned the little girl's hug, warmth spreading through him.

Just as quickly as the hug started, it ended. Joy backed up and grabbed his hand in both of hers, tugging ineffectually. "Come. Come."

Smile crinkling his eyes, Jim stood and let Joy drag him over to the center of the room. "Okay, okay. I'm coming. You're pushier than Sandburg is."

Joy stopped next to a grouping of small chairs. She patted one of them. "Sit down."

Jim eyed it with trepidation, seeing images of himself being permanently stuck at that level and having to get Blair and Megan to pull him up. "I don't think that's such a good idea, Joy."

Her face scrunched up again and she patted the chair again, a little harder that time, pulling on his hand. "Sit down."

Sighing and wondering just how crazy he was, he nodded. "Okay, okay, I'll sit. I may never be able to get up again, but I'll sit." Gingerly he sat on the small chair, thanking some obscure higher power that it didn't have arms. He heard the plastic creak under him, and he froze for a moment, hoping it wouldn't break.

Joy giggled, then scampered away. Jim watched her go, then looked over at the childcare worker. "Uh, sorry, I didn't mean to intrude. My friends and I are picking up Thomas." He motioned to the room across the hall.

The woman nodded. "Oh, little Tommy. You know his parents?"

"I know his mother. Rhonda works for my captain."

Her eyes widened slightly. "You're a cop? I mean, police officer?"

Jim smiled. "A detective, yes."

Joy returned, standing in front of him, book in one hand, she lifted both arms to him. "Up."

Jim acquiesced quickly, pulling the little girl up into his lap, her back against his chest. Feeling like he was performing some kind of balancing act, Jim held her to him with one hand while steadying himself on the small chair. "Is she always this...friendly?"

The woman nodded, amusement lacing her tone. "Oh, yes. Very friendly. She likes new people. And I think you remind her of her father." She watched him for a moment, then commented quietly. "You must have children of your own."

Jim chuckled, glancing over as Joy settled herself in his lap. "Actually, I don't." He paused, then added, "Well, unless you count my brother's kids and my partner who sometimes regresses back to childhood..."

Joy patted his hand, then carefully opened the book. "Read about the kitty now."

The woman spoke up again, directing her words to Joy. "What do you say, Joy? How do you ask nicely?"

Joy tilted her head to look up at Jim, wide brown eyes staring imploringly at him. "Please, Jim?"

Jim smiled, shaking his head. "And how I am supposed to resist such a request?"

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

Five minutes later, Jim paused in his reading when he heard the distinctive trill of a cellphone. He glanced upward and across the room to see Blair and Megan standing in the doorway, both watching him with smiles on their faces. Blair held the baby carrier, Thomas strapped snugly inside. Next to him, Megan pulled out her cellphone, answering it.

"Conner....yes, Captain, we're still here....Ellison? He's, uh, entertaining someone of the female variety at the moment, sir...."

Jim glowered at her from across the room, then shifted his glower to Blair as his partner laughed.

"....Yes, sir, right away, sir." She clicked the phone shut, a smirk dancing across her features. "I'm afraid the captain wants us back at the station, Jim. The captain said you can 'entertain' on your own time."

"One of these days, Conner..." Jim shook his head and gave his attention to Joy. "I have to go, sweetheart, okay?"

Joy twisted her head up to look at him. "Have to go?" She slid off his lap and grabbed his hand. "I show you where potty is."

"No, that's not--"

Blair started choking with laughter. "Have to go...oh, man..." He leaned his forehead against the wall, then straightened. "I think...I think I'll get out to the car, get Thomas settled." Still chuckling, Blair disappeared from sight, heading toward the front. Jim, face slightly red, could hear him mumbling to himself. "Show him where the potty is. Oh, that's too much."

Megan remained where she was, leaning against the doorjamb, arms crossed over her chest.

"Don't you have somewhere to be, Conner?" Jim asked.

"Uh-uh." She shook her head, merriment dancing in her eyes. "Figured I'd wait for you."

"Whatever." Jim shifted his attention back to Joy, ignoring the soft chuckles coming from the childcare worker. Setting the book aside, he smiled at the little girl and explained softly, "Joy, I have to leave."

"Oh." Releasing his hand, she stood in front of him, shuffling her feet. "You going bye-bye?"

He nodded. "That's right. Going bye-bye."

"Okay." She glanced over at the childcare worker, then back at Jim. "Thank you for story."

"You're welcome, Joy." Jim smiled, then shifted his weight forward. "Now if I can just get up again..."

"Need some help there, Jim?" Megan asked from her position in the doorway.

Jim glared at her. "No, I don't need help, Conner." He pushed himself to his feet, withholding the groan that disagreed with his verbal statement. He looked down when Joy tugged on his chinos. "Yes, sweetheart?"

"Don't be sad, 'kay?"

He touched her head, ruffling her curly hair. "I won't."

She smiled at him, then scampered away to join the few other children in play. Jim watched her a moment, then shook his head and walked over to Megan's side. "Let's go, Conner, before my partner decides to drive off and leave us here."

"Sandy wouldn't do that, would he?"

Jim snorted. "Never put anything past Sandburg."

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

Blair had just finished with the car seat when Jim and Megan exited the daycare center. He backed out of the car and stood up outside the driver's side door. "Oh, hey, guys, there you are. Was beginning to think I'd have to leave without you."

Jim looked pointedly at Megan. "See what I mean?"

Megan chuckled, but didn't say anything as she rounded the Volvo to the passenger side.

Puzzled, Blair asked, "What?"

"Tell you later." Jim waved a hand in the air. "We about ready to go here, Chief?"

"Yep. Just jump on in and we can skedaddle." Blair stood back for Jim to get into the car.

Jim looked from the car to Blair and back. "You want me to sit in the back?"

Blair exchanged a quick look with Megan who leaned against the other side of the car. "Uh, yeah. I'm not making Megan sit back there -- not terribly gentlemanly."

"What about you? You'd fit better."

"While that's probably true, Jim, this is my car. And I'm driving." Blair gestured to the car. "So get in."

Jim dug a hand into his pocket and pulled out a quarter. "Let's say we flip a coin. Heads, I drive." He tossed the coin high into the air. "Tails, I drive."

Blair's hand snapped out, and he snatched the quarter before Jim could catch it. "Quicker and younger partner grabs it and he drives." He jangled the car keys in one hand. "And makes his partner sit in the back seat with the baby."

"Chief..."

"Don't 'Chief' me, Jim. Whining will get you nowhere." Grinning, he pointed at the car. "Get in."

"I'm not gonna fit back there, Sandburg..."

***************************
Present and a few minutes later...
***************************

"Oh, man, what is that smell? Open a window or something."

"I knew it was a bad idea to sit back here. Why did I listen to you? Why do I let you tell me what to do?"

"Sandburg, stop laughing! You're swerving all over the place. Conner, do something! And you two think I'm a bad driver."

"Sandburg...!"

- The End -