Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters are completely the property of Paramount and Pet Fly Productions. I use them out of reverence, solely for fun and not for profit.

Author's Notes: This is a Gift Fic for Eve, who wanted a humorous, fun story.


Just Foolin' Around
by
Ismaro

ligela@sympatico.ca

 

It was the first call of its type that morning. Jim stared furiously at the receiver, swearing to himself, while the other detectives in Major Crimes laughed themselves sick as they watched.

It was Jim's bad luck that Brown had fielded the special message for Detective James Joseph Ellison. He was lucky to have escaped with his life, once Jim learned just how the Department found out what he was listening to.

Even Simon Banks had to retreat to his office so as not to geyser with laughter, or at least not in his people's hearing.

H had innocently wandered over to Jim's desk to deliver a report from Forensics, and was alone when the phone rang. He answered it for Ellison, who was on the other side of the room, talking Jags games with Rafe and Megan.

That was the wrong time for Jim to talk sports away from his desk. The telephone gods were out to get him.

"Hello," had purred a sweet, husky voice that hinted at sinuous curves and a willing spirit. H had said "hello" back, in a deep velvet voice that hinted at a very real appreciation of sinuous curves and a willing spirit.

"Ji-im," the lilting voice went on, "This is Lydia Goodbody, and I'm here at the airport, just got in from Dallllas, and, well, there's a number here on the wall of the lad-ess' room and it says, 'If you want a good timmme in Cascade, call Jim Ellison, girlfriend!". So I'm calling, Jim. Wanna show me a good timmme?"

H had nearly dropped his doughnut at that. Since it was the first of April, he knew this was a prank, and it sounded like fun, so he mastered his voice long enough to say, "This isn't Jim, but he's right here, so just stay on the line, okay? Stay on the line!"

"Okay," the voice returned, now businesslike and not half as sultry as before. H still wondered about the sinuous curves, though.

When he called Jim over to get the phone, H imparted the message to the other Major Crimes members. They all stared avidly as Jim went from white to pink to rose to cerise to crimson, apparently one change of colour to each sentence.

No one could hear Jim's side of the conversation, but he was almost cracking the plastic phone and the tic was jackhammering and he looked up, hunted, while everyone attempted to seem engrossed in the paint behind him. Nope, not looking at Jim Ellison, said all the innocent faces. Nope, not looking at him!

Jim cut off the call and stood up, apparently about to make a speech.

H cut him off at the pass. "So, got anything going for tonight, Jim?"

The bullpen exploded. Jim would have exploded too, except that he couldn't top the guffaws from his comrades. So he drew himself up and said icily, "No, H, I do not have anything going tonight. Do you?"

"No. But I sure wish I did!" And Brown started making noisy kisses in Jim's direction.

There would have been murder done in Major Crimes if Simon had not stepped into the room and roared, "Why am I not seeing people at work here? I wanna see people at work!"

H beamed happily and sank into his chair. His work was done.

"Simon!"

"Not now, Jim. I have work! You have work! I see your work on your desk. I do not see you doing your work! What's wrong with this picture, detective?" Then the utterly evil-hearted Captain Banks flowed back into his office and broke up entirely.

Jim gave the forensics report a once-over. He did not have time for jokes. He was a detective, dammit, and an overworked one, who had spent the whole o f the prior week—all seven days of it—cracking the Mangiotti murder case, then had been on double duty with nightly stakeouts every day that week, and only just got free in time to catch the file on the Mayor's babysitter's cousin's lost cat, or some such major crime.

Jim Ellison, quondam Ranger in Special Ops, was going to kill whoever set up "Lydia Goodbody" to call him.

"So who was it?" Jim whispered only just loudly enough to be heard by everyone in the room.

There was an instant hush.

"I'd guess it was Sandy," Conner offered.

"Why?" Ellison wanted to know. His Guide was living dangerously if he had set Jim up.

"He's not here."

"Huh?"

"You think any of us is gonna admit this?" Rafe asked incredulously. "With you in the room and the Tic of Doom?"

"Hey, it rhymes," Joel pointed out, and that was enough to bring the hidden laughter out again.

"Must be Blair then," Rhonda acquiesced.

"Yep, blame it on Hairboy!" Henri Brown agreed.

Then Jim's phone rang again.

Rhonda put it on the speaker system and went to hide behind Simon in his office.

"Allo, Jheeem. Dees ees Claudette L'Amour. You know 'ow to show a gairl a good time, non?" came a sweet, high, drifting French accent. "Ah am een Cascade for only one nahght, but Ah'd loave to speynd eet weet tyou."

"Who put you up to this?" Jim hissed into the phone. "I'm a detective. I'll hunt you to the ends of the earth. It's him or you. Which will it be?"

"What 'heem'?" the cool tones asked in bewilderment. "Ah fount your name een dee ladies' powdaire rroom at dee hairport. Whah woood ah man be doing 'ere? Do you do men in drahg, mon ami?"

The outrageousness of this suggestion collapsed the whole Major Crimes staff. Jim finally realized he was on the speaker and he chipped the receiver when he banged it down.

"Shut up!" he roared to the air. "Everyone, just shut up!"

Everyone laughed the harder. No one even had the strength to stand; all had fallen into their chairs.

"Rhonda is dead. Get out your credit cards and buy flowers for her funeral," Jim announced and took two steps away from his desk before the phone rang again.

"Hi, Jimbo! I'm Suzie Lovejoy and I enjoy love!" she started, but she never got the chance to make her whole speech.

"You and everyone in this with you are walking dead women. Or men. Walking dead people."

"Well, if you're going to be like that about it," Suzie said, and slammed down the phone on her end.

Jim winced hard.

Then he looked around.

Rhonda had kept the phone on the speaker.

'I'll send one single dead rose,' Jim resolved to himself as he closed to the door of Simon's office, only to have it swing open and nearly hit him in the nose.

"Detective!" Simon bellowed in his very best bellowing voice. He was proud of himself. He wasn't sure if he could manage it, given that he was desperately trying to stifle a case of the giggles.

"Simon?" Jim asked, coming as close to whining as a guy built better and taller than Hulk Hogan at his steroidal best could.

"You seem to be causing a great deal of havoc to this office!"

Jim was hurt and appalled. "Me? I didn't... H... Rhonda! It's all Rhonda's fault."

"No, it's not, no, it's not, it's all Blair's fault!" the blonde called out, still hiding behind Simon's desk.

"I don't care whose fault it is, detective! The trouble found you!"

"Sandburg's the trouble magnet!" Jim yelped, now wondering if indeed he were in Wonderland, since the conversation seemed to have no connection to rationality.

(More likely they were in the Sandburg Zone.)

"Get out of here, detective! I don't want to see you back until tomorrow, when it isn't April 1st and there will be no more joke telephone calls!"

Jim's choler decreased at the promise of a day off, and so did his colour. He went back to his natural tan, and ran his hand over his face.

"Out of here. For a full day. I can do that. And I can kill Sandburg too, while I'm at it." He gathered what few shreds of dignity were left to him and was headed for the hallway when the phone rang again and he fled for his life.


"Pick up the friggin' phone, Sandburg. You are so dead, my friend. Is there no trust between Sentinel and Guide any longer? Can there be no faith that your partner will not stab you in the back when you're not looking? Not when one's partner's name is Blair Sandburg. Because that name spells Treason. Pick up the friggin' phone, you putz!"

So went the one-sided conversation while Jim drove as he usually did through the streets of Cascade, heedless of the destruction he wove in his wake, one hand on the wheel, the other constantly hitting speed dial on his cellphone and ringing off when his calls wouldn't go through.

Hardly soon enough for the safety of those whom the Sentinel of Cascade was supposed to be protecting and serving, Jim Ellison reached Rainier University, underhandedly using his police credentials to park in Chancellor Mary Sue Edward's parking space, the one with her very own name stencilled on the asphalt, and pounded up the steps to Blair's office.

He flung open the door, and saw a harried-looking Blair deep in the throes of writing an essay. So locked in concentration was he that not even Jim's "Sandburg, Sandburg, Sandburg!" pierced the haze.

Jim had to grab the chair and swing him around and away from the keyboard.

"Hey, Jim!" Blair said crossly. "What's up with you? I'm busy here, man! What's your problem?" Then the annoyance left his face and the concern of a Guide for a Sentinel came out. "You okay? Having trouble with your senses? You didn't zone, did you?"

Jim slapped his hands down on the arms of Blair's chair, backed up and turned around, pushing his fingers through his hair.

"Hey, man, Jim, what's wrong?" Blair asked with greater concern, his heart beginning to pulse faster. He started to rise.

Jim waved him back into his seat. "S'okay. Did you set me up this morning?"

Blair frowned and said, "Set you up how?" then looked at his telephone, the receiver off the hook.

"Oh, man, not you too?" Jim complained.

"What happened, Jim?"

"I got a call from a Lydia Goodbody..."

"And she just flew in from somewhere, right?"

"Yeah, and she was in the airport ladies' room..."

"And she read your number on the wall..."

"And she was looking for a good time. You too, Chief?"

"Oh, yeah. I got Lydia too, and, um, Claudette L'Amour..."

"And Suzie Lovejoy."

"Suzie? I thought it was Suzanne."

"I'm sure it was Suzie. I could do one of those memory meditations."

"Please, don't, Jim. This is not a memory I wanna keep around. I had to take the phone off the hook to get any work done. Why couldn't they have called on the cellphones? We could have turned those off!" He gestured towards an invisible cellphone, obviously turned off.

"Well, that's why, of course." Jim stalked around the office, and then his natural instinct to Blame the Guide took over again.

"How do I know you got those calls?" the detective asked suspiciously.

"Huh? What? Jim, are you listening to yourself?" Blair wore a look somewhere between fear and puzzlement.

"You'd have known who they were if you'd set up the calls, wouldn't you, Sandburg?"

"I don't believe this," Blair protested. "Hey, wait, just a minute. I can prove I got the calls—at least I can prove I got one."

"How?"

"Cynthia Matthews was with me when it came in. It was the last one. I was so embarrassed I just took the phone off the hook."

"Who's Cynthia Matthews?"

"New TA, just started this term, got her MA in American Literature."

"I'll need to interrogate her." Jim was giving his Guide fair warning that he wasn't in the clear yet.

"Geez, Jim, man, we have got to talk about your trust issues." Blair stood and sidled past the brick wall known as James Ellison, and went down the hallway a couple of doors. Jim watched and listened up as Blair asked Cynthia to give him a few minutes to settle a quarrel with his roommate.

Jim was a little ashamed that Blair thought this was a quarrel, but not enough to keep from interrogating Ms. Matthews.

He slipped back into Blair's room and surreptitiously put the receiver back on the hook.

By the time the two academics were walking through the door, Blair's line was ringing again. He dove for the phone, cursing learnedly, and hit speaker mode. "Yeah, hi, who is it?"

"Blaih Sandbuhrg?" A crisp English accent wafted through the room.

"Yeah. Who is this?"

"You don't know me... yet."

Blair was about to reach through the wires and strangle the caller when Jim's hand fell on his shoulder and Jim shook his head.

Blair let the caller go on.

"I just arrahved from Surrey. That's in England."

"I know," Blair said disinterestedly.

"Of coase you do!" There was delight and laughter in the voice, which was beginning to sound rather nice.

"I got youh telephone numbah from a—guhlfriend."

"The lady that's known as Loo."

The English voice broke into laughter. "Yes, exactly."

"And what is your name, pray tell?" Blair was having trouble breathing and speaking at the same time. He was already preoccupied with chuckling.

"Eleanora Teacup."

"Eleanora T-cup?" Everyone in Blair's office were laughing out loud by now.

"That's T-E-A-C-U-P. A cup used for drinking tea."

"Thanks for the definition. I'll try one the next time I have a Darjeeling."

"You wouldn't like to..."

"Show a girl a good time? No, not tonight, I'm afraid."

Jim wrenched the phone from Blair's hand. "Me, either. I'm Jim Ellison."

"Oh, the other gentleman my guhlfriend recommended to me."

"Right. And I wouldn't like to show a girl a good time tonight either."

A soft little, "Gee, that's too bad," was muttered somewhere behind Jim's left ear. His peripheral vision picked up Cynthia Matthews, who was looking wistful.

"Well, then, someone else will have to do! Cheerio!" The phone went dead.

"Just like that Suzie person, huh, Blair?" Cynthia had rounded the Jim Ellison Wall and was smiling with dimples in either cheek. Cliche'd though they might be, the dimples were almost the equal of puppydog eyes.

Jim had to smile back, in spite of himself.

"Yeah, yeah, like Suzie. Can I take the phone off the hook and get some work done here, Jim?" Blair was staring at the computer. "I didn't save the last section, man."

Jim gave way and allowed his partner and Guide to sit at his desk again. Blair hit Save and let out a sigh of relief.

"What are you doing here anyway," he asked at length.

Jim was smiling at the dimples again. They were just about level with his chin. Cynthia was a tall, slender blonde, but Jim would have bet big money she would look terrific in a Titian rinse.

"H'mm? Oh, Simon gave me the day off. The phone calls were making life difficult for Major Crimes. Rhonda put them on the speaker."

Blair cracked up and Jim and Cynthia were not far behind.

"Man, do I wish I could get a day off that easy!" Blair exclaimed. "Next year, Jim, we'll have to try to work out some scheme so we both get the day off. Maybe get some fishing in, too."

"I have the day off," Cynthia said shyly, fluttering mascara'd lashes over deep green eyes.

Yup, those eyes would look terrific with a Titian rinse, Jim thought.

Then he heard a voice saying, "I really do know how to show a girl a good time," and realized it was his own. He blushed at the tawdriness of the words, and wondered if he could plead temporary insanity.

"Well, I'm new in Cascade," Cynthia mentioned. "Got any ideas of the sights I should see?"

"Why don't I show them to you, Cynthia?" Jim offered with a genuine smile.

"Sounds like fun. And I prefer Thia. Sure you can't join us, Blair?"

There was a pause while people hoped the Guide would refuse Jim's tour offer. He did not disappoint.

"See you later, Chief," Jim said as he headed out of the academic office. He popped his head back in to whisper, "Don't wait up."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. You are one lucky sob, Jim Ellison. All I've got is Whatsername T-cup. I had plans for Cyndy, Cynthia, Thia, whatever, you backstabbing Sentinel you!"

So Jim listened in on the Sandburg version of his own rant driving over and smiled as he showed Cynthia Matthews to the truck, on the start of a fine time for both.

Once Blair Sandburg was certain that Jim was gone—he checked Chancellor Edwards' parking space and it was empty—he called Captain Simon Banks.

"It worked."

"I knew it!"

"Thank Rhonda for the speaker phone! Tell her I owe her lunch!"

"I'm buying pizza for the department. You coming, Sandburg?"

"Nope, I'm buying pizza for the Theater Majors. You get the guys, and I get the girls."

"You always get the girls, Sandburg."

"Nah, today Jim got the girl, Simon."

"Yeah, and it's about time too."

"April and springtime and love. Jim is sooo lucky to have us looking out for him."

"Poor guy couldn't get a date for a doctor's appointment without us."

"You know, you're right."

"I'm always right. That's why I'm the captain."

"Yeah, right, tell it to the marines, Simon."

"Well, if you're gonna be that way about it..."

'SLAM' went the receiver.

"OUCH!" went the Guide.

And "Mmmm-hmmmm!" went the Sentinel, who had resolved not to kill Rhonda, Lydia, Claudette, Suzie or Eleanora and whoever put them up to the joke after all. A little fooling around was just fine by that tomcat. Prrrrrrrrrrt!

~ End ~


E-Mail Ismaro at ligela@sympatico.ca
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Page last updated 8/15/03.