DISCLAIMER: The Sentinel and its characters are the property of Paramount Studios and Pet Fly Productions. These stories are offered for the enjoyment of the fans. No money has exchanged hands.
Seems Like Old Times by D.L. Witherspoon
"Oh, man, what a classic!" Sleepy exclaimed when he saw Jim's pickup truck. "1969, right?" He stroked the sides lovingly.
"I can ride in the back, right, Doc?" Dopey said, already stepping into the truck bed. "C'mon, Bash."
"Leave room for me," Sleepy called, also climbing in.
"You boys comfy?" Jim asked, walking around to the driver's door.
"Yeah, Doc. Is the station far away?"
"Darn," Dopey said. He looked around in amazement. "You sure keep it clean, Doc."
"I try." Jim got in, and waited for his partner and Happy to join him in the cab.
"Uh, Jim," Blair began hesitantly, "you didn't read them their rights. If we're taking them in, maybe it would be a good idea."
"Boys," he called. "What are your rights?"
"We have the right to remain silent," the four chorused, Bash's voice just a little behind the others. "We have the right to an attorney --"
"Enough," Blair said, sliding into the truck. "We're going to have a long talk when I get you alone," he muttered to a certain Sentinel.
Happy shut the door, and threw his arm over the back of the long seat. "So, Partner Blair, how long you been hanging with Doc?"
"About four years."
"You must be good. Doc doesn't tolerate a lot of mistakes."
"Yeah. I sorta learned that the hard way," Blair replied, his elbow "accidently" making contact with Jim's side. "But he was patient with me -- most of the time."
"Doc was 'patient' with you," Happy said with a laugh. "That's a good one, Partner Blair."
Blair scowled. He hadn't realized he'd made a pun. "So, how long have you known Doc here?" He heard a warning growl from a certain driver, and ignored it.
"It was back in '85, wasn't it, Doc?"
"Something like that."
"We took to him right off," Happy continued. "But we thought he wouldn't like us. How did Grumpy put it? 'They'll grow on you.' That's what he liked to tell people who met us."
Jim chuckled. "Yeah, that's exactly what he told me. I don't think anyone could frustrate him better than you, Hap."
Blair looked at his partner. "Don't tell me there was someone grumpier than you, Jim. In fact, I was wondering why that wasn't your handle."
"No, Doc is Doc," Happy explained. "He prepared all our missions with surgical precision. Never once had one of his missions go bad. And he didn't fuss when I wouldn't take a weapon. He said a man had to be comfortable to do a good job."
"Yeah, he's like that," Blair agreed. "He knows how to get the best out of everyone."
"Grumpy was our commander," Jim said, never comfortable with praise. "He ran the team, gave us our assignments."
Jim gripped the steering wheel. "He was with me in Peru."
"Sorry, man," Blair said, laying his hand briefly on Jim's shoulder. "So, what's up with this Seven Dwarfs theme anyway?
"We're all six-feet tall and over," Happy said, as if that explained everything.
Which, Blair thought to himself in amazement, it did. Of course seven tall guys would name themselves after Snow White's dwarfs. It made perfectly good sense in a weirdly human way. He wondered if it was going to make any sense to a certain captain.
"Anyway, Doc took to us right off," Happy said, continuing his narrative. "Even got Bash to come out of his shell a bit. Those were the best times.... Haven't been the same since you left, Doc."
"You know why I had to leave, Hap."
"We know. But it doesn't mean we missed you any less."
Jim adjusted his grip on the steering wheel. "It's good seeing you guys again, too."
Blair watched in fascination as Jim got his former men settled in the Major Crime bullpen. Being night, the large room was empty. There was a light on in Simon's office, but the blinds were open, revealing that the captain was not in residence at the time.
"This is my desk," Jim told them. "Don't touch anything else."
"But it's so clean, Doc," Dopey whined, kneading his dusting rag in his hands.
Jim pointed to the desk next to his. "That's Sandburg's. He probably won't mind a good cleaning."
"Please, Partner Blair?" came the excited request. So much junk and dust in one place. Dopey was in heaven. And Blair could see it in his eyes.
"Sure, Dope. Knock yourself out." He'd have plenty of time to straighten everything out later. It would be a nice excuse for getting out of paperwork.
Sleepy had already commandeered Jim's chair, and was drifting off. Jim rolled him back and put Blair's chair in front of the computer, and turned the machine on. "Here you go, Bash. No poking into the mainframe, okay?" Bashful nodded silently. Then Jim winked at him. "But a little tweaking won't be so bad." He got a grin in response.
"I was wondering when the two of you were going to show --" Simon began as he walked into the bullpen. He stopped as he looked up from the folder he was reading, and saw the visitors. "What's going on here?"
"I'll be with you in a minute, Captain," Jim called, as he bent to open a drawer in his desk. He handed Happy a heavy catalog, and swiped another chair. "Don't drool all over it," he cautioned.
While he made Happy happy, Blair was already in the office, quietly explaining to Simon that the one cleaning his desk was Dopey, at the computer was Bashful, the one Jim was talking to was Happy, and the sleeping one was, of course, Sleepy.
"I expect you men to go out and find thieves, and you bring me a bunch of dwarfs?" Simon asked in exasperation.
"We did exactly as you asked, Captain," Blair said as Jim moved to join them.
"You're telling me that those four are the expert team that broke into three high-security estates?"
"That's correct, Captain," Jim said, entering the office and closing the door.
Simon took another look. "Uh uh, I'm not buying it, gentlemen."
"They're military, sir. I've worked with them. I know how capable they are."
Simon eyed his detective closely. "That's why you took off so suddenly at the crime scene. You knew who you were looking for and where to look."
"I had a hunch. Always try to check into a new, expensive hotel. Their reservation system is so new, they're not surprised when you say there's been a screw-up. You sigh, ask for one of the smaller suites, and they give you a large one just to make up for 'their' mistake. They are also more likely to overlook certain eccentricities like grown men eating Silly Meals, " Jim explained.
"Have you read them their rights? Are they going to confess? Why aren't they in lock up? Or at least Interrogation? Has the D.A.'s Office been notified?"
Jim sighed. "Captain...Simon --"
"No, Ellison. I know when you start 'Simoning' me, you and your partner have come up with some lamebrain scheme that will probably achieve world peace, but makes me look like an A- Number One fool in the meantime." Simon grabbed a cigar to chomp on. "Get those men booked now! And preferably under their real names, if you know them."
"Alan Smallwood, Peter Harper, Randall Smythe, III, and Solomon Sheppard, Jr." Jim reeled off with ease. "But, sir, there's more going on here than just a few cases of simple robbery --"
"Do I look like I care, Ellison? No. Major Crime was assigned to catch the burglars. End of story."
"Nuclear weapons," Blair said softly.
"What?" Simon turned to him.
"They were stealing to have enough money to buy nuclear weapons."
Simon looked at Jim for confirmation. Jim nodded, and Simon reached for his Rolodex. He really should have memorized the number for the FBI field office by now.
A hand covered his as he reached for the phone. "Wait, Simon. Please."
Simon gazed into the solemn, sincere stare of his best detective, and folded. One of these days, he was going to learn to just give in at the beginning. "Okay, Jim. What's really going on?"
"It's true the boys were stealing to get the money to buy the nuclear weapons, but their intent was not malicious. They wanted the weapons in order to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. Happy had already made arrangements with an authorized disposal site."
Simon scowled. "You high, Jim? Been sniffing something you aren't supposed to? Because I know Jim Ellison in his right mind wouldn't buy such a cockamamie story. No, wait. You're the same man who bought Harry Conley's sad tale too, aren't you?"
"I was right about Harry, and I'm right about these guys too, Simon," Jim said firmly. He got up and walked to the door. "Hap, we need you in here."
Doc? Simon mouthed silently to Blair. Blair just nodded.
"Hap, this is Captain Simon Banks, my superior officer."
Happy held out his hand, giving Simon's a firm shake. "Hello, sir," he said formally.
Blair's mouth fell open. Gone was the affable guy who had thrown his arms around Jim, and grinned constantly. This man was solemn, his back ramrod straight, his hands folded behind his back.
"The captain needs a report on your latest mission," Jim explained.
"Sir, two weeks ago, the team and I became aware that there was a shipment of nuclear arms for sale in the region. I met with the dealer and set up terms. To secure the funding for the venture, the team and I committed three felonies. While relaxing after the last one, we were apprehended by Detectives Ellison and Sandburg."
"What was the ultimate goal of your mission?" Jim prompted.
"Sir, to dispose of the nuclear material as safely as possible. A depository for such material was discovered in New Mexico. As soon as the weapons were delivered to us, we were to arrange transport to the facility."
"And now that you've been caught?" Simon asked.
"We are prepared to pay for our crimes, sir. However, Detective Ellison has another scenario in mind."
Simon turned to Detective Ellison. "You have one minute."
"We let them complete the transaction, thereby getting the dealer and the weapons. It will not only make the world a safer place, but be a big coup for the department, sir."
"It would be, wouldn't it?" Simon said thoughtfully. And it would go a long way in repaying the favors owed to the mayor and the commissioner for allowing Blair to become a detective, despite the negative publicity. "If you're expecting a deal, however, we're gonna have to contact the D.A."
Happy shook his head. "No, sir. We do this as our duty to the public. We aren't expecting anything in return."
"Thank you, Ha --" Simon couldn't bring himself to say it -- "That will be all, soldier. Please wait outside."
"Yes, sir." He turned and Jim dismissed him with a crisp salute.
"Impressive," Blair commented.
Jim nodded. "He likes to please people. I said Simon was my commanding officer, therefore, he acted to please a C.O."
"About this plan of yours," Simon began. "It better be good."
"Doc's plans are always good, Captain," Blair said, grinning when Jim glared at him.
"Why do I think I'm going to spend the night dreaming about a prince on a white horse?" Simon muttered.
"Oooh, kinky, sir," Blair said gleefully, and Simon just dropped his head against the desk.
"The men are settled in, sir," Happy reported.
Jim turned around in his chair on the balcony. Peering into the dark loft, he could see the sleeping bags lined up precisely on the floor. "Come join us for a minute, Hap." With a lazy swipe of his leg, he dragged a chair over next to his and Blair's. The night was cool, but not uncomfortably so. He and Blair often unwound out here, the open space a balm for whatever bruises the day had given them.
"This is a nice place you have, Doc."
"Thanks. But it's your place I'm worried about. What happened? Why did you leave the Army?"
Happy sighed as he sat backward in the offered chair, leaning forward to rest his chin on the back. "Rumors were that Dopey wasn't going to pass his next psych evaluation."
"Why? He doesn't seem that changed to me."
"He wasn't the one that changed; the guidelines did. Ever since McVeigh and Nichols pulled that stunt in Oklahoma, any deviation from center line is considered suspect."
Blair took exception to calling the destruction of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma, killing 168 men, women and children, a "stunt", but he bit his jaw and kept his silence.
"We weren't about to let him go off alone, and we pretty much figured they'd get all of us eventually anyway, so we turned in our fatigues and became free men."
"Free, bored, men," Jim guessed.
"Yeah, well, we always did need someone riding herd on us."
"Why didn't you --" Jim cleared his throat. "Why didn't you contact me?"
"We heard about what Col. Oliver did and figured you didn't want anything else to do with your military life."
"I wouldn't turn my back on my friends."
Happy shrugged. "I think we realized that as soon as we found out the weapons were in Cascade. That's what made up our minds. It was kismet, karma, whatever. The weapons were in Cascade. Doc was in Cascade. It was destiny." He grinned, dark eyes settling on Jim fondly. "We haven't been this jazzed since we've been on our own. Everything's in synch now." He yawned and shoved back from the chair. "Guess I better turn in. Dope only really settles down when we're all together. Goodnight, Doc, Partner Blair."
"Goodnight, Hap. And don't worry. I'll do whatever I can for you and the boys."
"We know that, Doc. Kinda sorry we forgot it earlier." He paused in the doorway. "We won't again."
"They're good men," Jim told Blair when they were alone. "Different, but good."
Blair nodded. "I just wish you had introduced me in another way. I tried five times to get them to call me Sandburg, or even just Blair. No dice."
"Okay. Next time I'll call you Snow White. I can just see you singing 'Someday My Prince Will Come.'"
Blair rolled his eyes. "I carry a gun now, man," he reminded his partner. "But, hey, Prince Charming would have worked."
Jim laughed out loud, startling a cricket out of its song. "Let's go to bed, Modesty Boy."
"Gee, Jim, you make me sound like some spokesperson for a feminine protection product," Blair whined facetiously.
"Trust me, Chief. We all need protection from you."
Blair fell asleep, plotting payback.
Continue on to Act III...
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This page last updated 2/2/01.