Disclaimer: The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Simon Banks, and all other characters are property of Paramount and Pet Fly. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money has exchanged hands.


by Arnie


"Hey, Jim."

"Hey yourself, Chief. Smells good." Jim sniffed appreciatively. He had to admit, since Sandburg moved in "for a week, I swear", he'd been eating better. He was more inclined to put an effort into making a meal when there were two people to feed, and Blair was no slouch in the kitchen either. "What is it?"

"Vegetarian lasagne. I know, I know! Trust me."

Jim grinned. He'd heard those words before.

"It'll be ready in about fifteen minutes," Sandburg told him, sticking his head in the fridge to find the rabbit food Jim had carefully hidden at the back, "so if you want a shower, you've got time."

"Salad too, huh?"

There was a sigh. "It's okay, Jim, you can cover it with dressing and you'll never taste a thing."

"Sandburg, I'm a Sentinel. Lettuce has no taste; trust me on that one. Anyway, heads up." He tossed over the small package he'd been determined to buy ever since spotting the item in a shop window. And with any luck, it'd distract Sandburg from the salad.

"A present? For me?" Sandburg's eyes flickered from Jim to the well-wrapped packet in his hand. "You wrapped it too."

Jim slipped off his coat and hung it up, grinning while his back was turned on his confused roommate. He had to admit, it had been a slow day in the bullpen, so he'd spent part of the afternoon wrapping Sandburg's present. Which reminded him, he owed Rhonda for the ribbons.

"It's not my birthday."


"It's not Christmas."

"Nu uh." The sunshine pouring in through the balcony window was proof of that.

"It's not even Hanukkah." Sandburg looked at Jim again, confusion in his eyes. "So what's the occasion?"

"Open it." Fetching a beer, Jim settled himself down on the couch and listened to Sandburg trying to open his present. He'd wrapped it well; it had been a very slow day in the bullpen.

The muttering increased as the packaging resisted any attempts to rip it open. Finally a, "What did you use to wrap this, Jim? I swear Fort Knox could take lessons from you!" was accompanied by the sounds of Sandburg fetching a pair of scissors and cutting the paper. There was silence for a few seconds then, "Mater Artium Necessitas."

Jim turned on the couch and looked over the back. "Yep, it means-"

"Necessity is the mother of invention." Sandburg turned the small, heavy plaque over in his hands, obviously looking for clues as to why Jim had found it necessary to give him this. "Okay, Jim, I'm stumped. What is this, give-your-roommate-a-Latin-plaque day?"


The salad-making was abandoned as Sandburg sat on the couch next to him, the plaque still in his hand. "So...what's the occasion?" he repeated.

"Remember at McCoy's the other day?"


"Remember what you did?" Jim prodded.

"Yeah?" Sandburg was looking even more confused.

"Tell me again what you did, Chief."

"Well...I..." Sandburg gave a half-laugh, "I took out an armed robber."

"Yep." Jim stretched out his legs and took a swig of beer. "And what did you use to take him out?"

Sandburg flushed, and his eyes dropped to the plaque. "Oh."

Jim waited, and finally Blair mumbled, "Two apples, six packets of pita bread and a can of corned beef hash."

"The guy had a gun. A big gun. And you pelted him with apples until he chased you down the aisle-"

"I was trying to knock him out! It's not my fault he had a hard head!"

"-then he slipped on the pita bread you'd knocked over-"

"I did that on purpose! Give me some credit, Jim!"

"-then you knocked him out with a can of corned beef hash."

There was silence for a few seconds, then a small voice replied, "Well, the apples weren't hard enough."

Jim looked at him.

"Hey, at least the corned beef hash can worked!"

"You took out an armed robber with the makings of a picnic, Chief."

Sandburg's gaze fell to the plaque in his hands. "So...does this mean you were impressed?" he asked.

"No." That was a lie. Jim had been impressed but he'd been more relieved that Sandburg hadn't been hurt. "The plaque's made of lead. Carry it with you. Next time, hit 'em with that first."

"What makes you think there'll be a next time?" Sandburg demanded, retreating to the kitchen to save the lasagne from burning.

"Chief, this is you we're talking about. There'll always be a next time."


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