Heh heh heh.... This is what happens when I go on vacation. I get *ideas*! (A word to the wise; run away while you still can.) All places and inanimate objects, actually exist in lovely, freaky, Los Angeles with the exception of "El Playtime Boutike". My hometown in Pennsylvania owns that dubious honor, I'm afraid.

A thousand thanks to Dawn Powell and Quiltaday my lovely Beta-readers, as well as my dear archiver and patroness Shycat. And of course, undying loyalty to a certain bunch of elves who started it all...

And now it's time for the disclaimer dance. ( To the tune of Frere Jaque, and shuffled obsequiously while singing pitifully)

I don't own them,
I don't own them,
Pet Fly does,
Pet Fly does,
Please, oh please don't sue me,
Please, oh please don't sue me,
I'm too poor,
I'm too poor.

A Day Out

Part Five of "An Everyday Life" Series

by Grey Bard

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

The feeling of exhalation, another's breath within the room. Another heartbeat gaining speed. The sound of a few footfalls, one whisper of air and then a world of vibration.

One eye cracked open and a face came into view, far too close. Sandburg. Grinning madly from where he had landed after his running leap onto the bed.

"Happy Valentines Day, Jim!" laughed his guide. "Come on, get out of bed, it's a big day for us!"

The feeling of a throat dry from a night of sleep. " Not that I don't appreciate it Chief, but I don't think I swing that way."

Blair shook his head pityingly. " No, no, it's not just a couple day, it's also a cheer up luckless ladyless friends day."

"Since when? Why?" grumbled the half sleeping Sentinel, hopelessly trying to delay the inevitable whatever it was this time.

"Since when?" the anthropologist gawked."It's an integral part of the whole Valentine's Day thing, man! You've got all the young lovers parading around in the streets, red and white in all the store windows; of course people are going to be depressed! Why do you think drugstores sell all those perky silly little cards women send each other if they're single? People need cheering up today."

"And I'm one of these people ?"

"Yeah, think about the last year and you'll see why." Blair said with surprising vehemence.

There was a certain amount of truth to that. It was as if for the last year or so some great force was pulling out all the stops to get a message across, and it was very simple: Jim + Women = bad. "Great. That's nice. Can I go back to sleep now? It's Sunday morning, remember, Mr. Sunshine?"

"All right," Sandburg said, getting up. "But I want to see you at breakfast in an hour. I've got plans."

"Plans. Great." But as he turned over to go back to sleep, Jim realized that his friend might just have a point. A song he had once heard just wouldn't leave his head.

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

~Beware of the women who grind up men's hearts,
They chew the four chambers and spit out all the parts
They paint their faces with such byzantine arts
And leave you used up in the morning...~

Images of Lila and Alex, beautiful but dangerous creatures who had easily ripped out Jim's heart and crushed it into the pavement in every way possible save for the literal one. In their own ways each had given off hints at potential, whiffs of a connection he had wanted so very badly, and then ultimately dashing his hopes. Cupid had not been kind to Jim Ellison this year.

~Beware of the women who promise blue skys,
There's tornado warnings in the back of those soft eyes,
Like a weather forecaster, practiced in his lies,
They'll leave you destroyed in the morning...~

Memories of Blair in a thousand different moods up and down and over the moon because of Samantha. For example, right now she had declared a two week moratorium on all dates so that she could date other people, but of course if Blair took advantage of that she'd practically bite his head off. She seemed so reasonable, so warm, but she played Sandburg like a virtuoso, and could make him jump through hoops if she wanted to. Jim had seen her do it to others in the department many times before, and it was always the same. She would keep him coming back with a few moments of calm in the storm and would continue to toy with the man until she finally had enough of him.

When she eventually, inevitably dropped Blair, it would break him up badly and Jim didn't look forward to trying to patch his friend back together. Some parts would be irretrievably lost and no matter how small they were, those who knew the observer would always miss them. Jim could only hope they wouldn't be vital. No, however bad Jim had it, Blair's case was all the worse for his current obviousness.

~Beware of the woman who opens like wide fields
You can plow all the furrows, and count up all the yields,
But then John Deere comes by with his newfangled wheels
She'll leave you with the children in the morning...~

A thought of Simon, oddly careworn. His ex-wife had once promised him forever, and maybe she'd meant it once. A policeman's life, though, was too dangerous for her eventually, and forever had suddenly ended three and a half years ago. Simon was left with his son and his memories, while she married a dentist. The police captain, however, still loved her and probably always would.

Now Daryl wanted very badly to follow his father's footsteps into policework and Simon could only hope that the woman who had left him would not also desert her son.

Yeah, Simon could do with some cheering up too.

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

Blair looked up from the breakfast he had started making once he heard the telltale sound of the shower running signaling the fact that his roommate had finally left dreamland. Said roommate was now standing over him, looming benignly. Smiling at this hour of a Sunday morning? Something was up.

"Hey Chief, how solid are those plans you have for today?" Jim said in that tone of voice that implied that he had an idea. A very dangerous thing indeed.

"Nothing that can't be changed. Why?" asked the former prime instigator.

"What would you say to having another guest along on this little expedition?"

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

I can't believe I am riding in a crowded truck cabin with two crazy people. "So then you suggested taking me along on this?" My god, he's actually grinning. Not widely, but definitely grinning. Both of them are!

"Yes Simon, that's right." said Sandburg in that tone of voice he probably saves for amusingly stupid students.

"And you won't tell me where we're going?" This is like something from a bad eighties movie.

"Got it in one, sir." broke in Jim. He was far too smug for comfort.

"Tell me again why I allowed you two to drag me along?" Other than contagious insanity, that is.

"Because your daily routine of getting shot at is boring after a while?" chirped Sandburg from his perch on the edge of his seat.

" I'm a desk jockey. The only time I get shot at is when you're around, Sandburg? Do the words trouble magnet mean anything to you?" Okay, maybe that was harsh, but considering what I've gone through with these two it wasn't anything but the truth.

"It's not only that, Captain. I seem to remember a certain fishing vacation to Peru..." Jim hinted darkly. That was a low blow, as well as a bad memory. Come to that, I did begin to remember some other circumstances that suggested that he was hardly immune to attracting fire himself.

"Stop it, okay guys?" Blair scolded. " Jim needs to drive and you need to help me keep an eye out for the restaurant. This place is a zoo, I hope I can find it again." Funny for him to act the adult, but the kid did have a point. The neighborhood had grown increasingly colorful.

"Bailbond Fianza's, 24-hour get out jail free cards? El Playtime Boutike? Damn, they can't even spell. Yeah, this is a good neighborhood." This would be interesting.

"Watch for the Killer Shrimp, will you? It's right next door to the place we want to go." Sandburg said, squinting in the sun.

"Is that the one that has the twenty foot mural of the half-naked woman riding a giant shrimp?" God, no one called the zoning commission over that? What am I thinking, not in this area. The locals probably enjoy the view.

"Yup, that's the place. Turn here, Jim."

"Sandburg , how do you find these places?"

"Well, a sister of another TA I know knows a restaurant reviewer."

"Skip it, Sandburg. Jim, why do you let him do this to you? I mean The Killer Shrimp? I thought you had more sense than that."

"Didn't you hear a word Blair said, Simon?" Jim asked, who was already getting a dreamy look on his face. I wonder what good food is like with supersenses. "We're not eating there. It's just that it's next door to the finest dimsum place in Cascade. Just like Sally used to take us to when Dad was out of town."

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

It was kind of cool and a little funny to watch Simon's expression change from annoyed to overwhelmed as he walked into the crowded restaurant full of strange smells and sounds. Meanwhile it was Jim who for once got to explain a new cultural experience while Blair looked on in amusement. Being able to be the expert on something not involving bloodshed seemed to please the frequently grim Sentinel.

As they sat down and the first food carts passed the table, it was even funnier to see Simon's reaction to Jim discussing the various dishes with the waitresses in hesitant but able Chinese, Blair and Jim eating all sorts of strange looking things with great relish and apparent unconcern for the possible ingredients of these delicacies. Their boss hung back at first, but as shrimp dumplings, vegetable pouches, crackling rice soup, and pork barbecue buns came forward in reassuring succession he relaxed enough to order on his own without expert help. Ignoring the warning gestures of his friends, he confidently ordered the spareribs only to learn why even chili-pepper growers treat Hunan food with a healthy respect. In a desperate search for relief, he drank the entire pot of green tea in record time, loudly denouncing his men for not warning him better. The offer of sweetcake rolls, however, took him off his guard and the sticky-creamy confections really sweetened his temper. Blair congratulated himself. A good lunch all in all.

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

Nothing like a good movie. Cascade's new Imax at the Science Museum was playing "Everest". Sentinel senses were useful for real life, but for once Jim could enjoy all the detail he was used to without stressing his eyes. The scenery projected in front of him was spectacular, but the quiet backchat he heard out of the dark from the seats next to him was much more fun.

"Oh man. This is, like, Naomi's favorite song." came a very familiar voice out of the dark.

"Your mother's favorite song is the soundtrack to a documentary? So strangeness does run in the family, Sandburg?" asked another well known voice, dry with humor.

"You've met my mom, don't joke about that. No, no, this is a fancy version of an old Beatles song, "Here Comes The Sun". I must of heard it a thousand times growing up."

"Why are they playing it as a group of suicidal types start to climb a deadly mountain?"

"Don't ask me, Simon. Maybe they're trying to run away from the music."

"I thought you said you liked this song?"

"I said Naomi liked it. The memories it brings back are good, but after you hear something for the 375th time it gets a little old. Remember Brown's Fourth of July hat?"

"You mean the one that played 'It's a Grand Old Flag'? The one I threatened to shove down his throat if he pushed the play button one more time?"

"Yeah, it's like that, only for sixteen years."

"Wow," said Simon in horrified awe, and both sat silent for a while.

A small child came in late and climbed the theater steps to the seats behind them. Smelling the telltale scent of theater-going misery, Jim immediately went into the defensive procedures he had been taught so well.

"Aww, man! Jujubees and popcorn? Nothing else makes a munch-squish sound like that."

"It's bad enough for us, how can Jim stand it?"

"How does he stand it, Simon? Don't make me laugh. Ever since I taught him to filter out unpleasant background noises, he's been unbearably smug at times like these."

"Damn. You don't mean that he can actually ignore that?"

"Nope, he just doesn't even hear it anymore once he starts filtering."

"The lucky stiff. I could use that for dealing with the Mayor when he's on one of his little tares."

" I feel for you, Simon."

Jim turned his attention back to the movie just in time to see the part where the guy froze his hands off.

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

As Jim walked him up to his door, Banks' heart fell. The party was over and reality had begun to set in again.

"Feeling down?" Ellison asked.

"A little." he admitted as he searched his coat pocket for his housekeys. "Today was nice, but in the end I still have to spend Valentines Day alone."

His friend looked as if he would speak, when a cheerful and impatient voice called from the truck.

"Hey, Jim!" hollered Sandburg. "No offense to Simon, but if we don't get start back for home now you will never get to taste my lamb tika!"

"I've got to go." Jim apologized. "Apparently the meat needs to sit in yogurt for two hours. It's a Blair thing. And I'm sorry about you being alone, but we all are."

As Jim trotted back to the truck and the laughing voice of his roommate, Simon sighed. "All of us, Ellison? No, not all of us."

-END-