The first Critter story, the "Guide's Dogs", resulted in some people asking for more stories about our favorite detectives and their pets. So I happily dedicate this story to those who asked for more. See, if you praise the author with nice e-mails she will write more. As always a big hug goes to TAE for betaing, as well as instructions on cat bathing and Wolfpup for housing.
The usual disclaimers apply. Jim, Blair and all other things Sentinel belong to Petfly. The Critters all belong to me. You may us them if you wish, I only ask that you contact me first.
He couldn't breathe. Jim Ellison had long ago accepted the fact that he might very possibly die before he had to worry about old age, but somehow, suffocation was never the way he thought he would go. He had been shot, stabbed, and beaten up enough times to imagine any one of those things killing him, but never this. He could see the headlines: Major Crimes detective suffocates to death in his own bed. At least Blair would be taken care of. Jim's will and a letter addressed to Simon would see to that. Perhaps, if he turned his head or got up he could breath easier. Fur, he smelled animal fur. Raising his hands to his face, he caught hold of a black feline wrapped around his neck and covering his face. His mental computer brought up the files from the previous day. His cat, the cat he had brought home yesterday when Blair's dogs moved in with them, had fallen asleep on him. Now fully awake, Jim lifted the cat off him and lowered him to the floor. A yowl of protest and indignation was followed by the sleek feline hopping on the bed and curling up to go back to sleep.
Looking at the clock, the detective realized that he soon would have been up, anyway. Years of Army life had left the ex-ranger unable to sleep in. Even if he had the day off, his body woke up at 0530. Rolling over to sit up, Jim once more thanked his army years, as only the reflexes honed by his years as an army ranger and kept sharp by the city's criminal element, kept him from landing on his butt on the floor. Somehow a thirty-five pound Spaniel and a cat had shoved him from his usual place in the center of the queen-sized bed to the outer edge. Grabbing clothes from the dresser, he turned to make his bed, just like he did every morning. A sleek feline and medium sized canine sprawled over his bed in peaceful slumber.
"Move it guys! Get off the bed, now!" A sad pair of brown eyes gazed up at him, while another pair of eyes looked down at him as though he was unworthy of notice. The sentinel gave up early; this was a fight that he wasn't going to win.
"Fine. You guys can have anther 5 minutes but when I'm done in the bathroom, the bed is getting made, even if you're still in it."
The detective headed downstairs. For the first time in remembered history, Detective James Ellison didn't make his bed first thing in the morning. The large detective reappeared minutes later, having forgone a shower, since he was going out running. Entering his room, Jim saw that neither pet had cleared out. Clapping his hands woke Muffit up and she hopped off and headed downstairs, after stopping for an ear scratch. Jag just looked at him, daring this human minion to disturb his sleep. He was lifted off and put on the floor, but he jumped right back on. Jim pushed him off, but the cat just moved around his hands. Making good on his threat, Jim pulled covers and bedding into place while the cat lay on them. While not up to his usual bounce a quarter on it standards, the bed was made.
Putting on the sweats he had laid out, Jim headed down. Sitting by the door, leash in her mouth was Muffit. Sighing, the older man clipped on her leash and they headed out. Blair, having woken up just in time to see the duo head out, went to the window. Jim was running while the spaniel trotted along faster and faster. By the end of the block, the dog was running and Jim was flying as he never had in all the years he had been running. Blair just grinned; he had been running with Muffit before.
Having finished in the bathroom, Blair started breakfast, knowing Jim would be back sooner than usual. Jim came dragging in; Muffit trotted in after him like she had only been around the block. Off her leash she trotted to her dish, had some water and headed upstairs where the other animals were.
"I... don't... think... I've.... ever.... run... that... fast" Jim was panting. Blair handed him water and a towel as he headed towards the bathroom and a shower. Maybe he should have warned Jim that Allen use to run marathons and had often taken the black and white spaniel with him while training.
Jim left the bathroom after a quick shower and headed up to his room. A black blur leaped from between the loft railings to land on the couch as a pair of canines raced down the stairs. Mutterings and growls emanated from the upstairs bedroom. Blair crept half way up the stairs. Peeking into the Sentinel's den of privacy, he cringed and backed down to the kitchen. Jim hated making his bed twice in the same day. Apparently dogs and cats, as well as quarters, could bounce on the nearly perfectly made, to military specifications, bed.
"Why do the dogs keep destroying my bed, but leave yours alone?" Jim called down in frustration.
"Because, man, mine is never made in the first place and it's not in a good napping spot." Blair explained easily.
"Not a good napping spot?" Jim raised an eyebrow as he came down the stairs.
"The only sun in my room is through the escape door, so the only sunny spot in my room is the middle of a hard floor. You, on the other hand, have a skylight, making a nice, warm, sunny napping spot on the bed." It sounded so reasonable when Blair explained these things. But then, Blair could say that the universe rotated around the earth and have it sound reasonable.
The two men sat down to breakfast. Jim smiled when he noticed that his guide was not only letting him have real bacon this morning, something that rarely happened, but he had actually made it for him. A high pitched whine came to his ears, looking over, the sentinel saw two sets of big sad puppy dog eyes looking at him. Muffit decided to try being cute and sat up, begging. Jim grinned and tossed her a piece of the bacon. Burton, getting the clue, rolled over and tried to shake hands. He received a treat as well. Both promptly started a campaign for a second piece.
"Muffit, Burton, go lie down." Both dogs looked at Blair with non-comprehension. The younger man was sputtering. These shameless creatures were hardly the well-trained companions that he had left with his friend! And Jim was hardly helping! Blair got up, taking a dog in each hand; both animals were led to their blanket and told to "Lie down and stay."
"Listen Jim, you have house rules, and I have dog rules." Blair was glaring at his roommate as he marched back to the table. "The number one dog rule is that they DO NOT GET FED AT THE TABLE. People food isn't good for them anyway, but if you insist on giving them table scraps, wait until we are done and put it in their dishes. They never begged until they went to live with Allen. I can't break them of begging at the table if you encourage it by giving in to them."
"No feeding at the table, got it. They just look so hungry, and I sure wouldn't want to eat the stuff you put in their bowls. I mean, did you read the labels on that stuff? You complain about what I put in my body, that is nothing compared to what you put in theirs." Jim was sounding insulted.
"One day. One day and they have you wrapped around their little toes. What they eat is the top line premium dry dog food. It has the perfect balanced diet for their size and lifestyles, although I may have to change it for a less active diet now. They do not need handouts. If they're hungry, they have food in their bowls. I have to get going to the academy; I'll see you later this afternoon. Try not to spoil the kids too badly, Jim." The younger man laughed as he left, knowing that under his tough guy exterior, his roommate was pure mush.
The dogs raced to the balcony door and watched Blair leaving. Jim grabbed a bucket and soap from under the sink and planned to spend quality time with sweetheart, his beloved 69 Pickup. Dropping the cleaning supplies at the door, the former ranger grabbed an oil filter and pan from the storage closet and went to spoil his truck. Three fur-covered bodies were parked by the bucket. Sighing, Jim opened the door, snagging three leashes and a harness on the way.
Jim staked the three leashes down so that the pets were safe from traffic but able to make friends with all the people and enjoy the sun. Washing the classic didn't take long and Muffit entertained him by trying to catch the water sprays in her mouth, while the other two tried to avoid any water at all. The polishing took a little longer and resulted in the trio feeling ignored since he wasn't even playing the water spray game with them.
With it being almost noon, Jim took a break and played ball while having a beer and a sandwich. Lunch finished, he had one more thing to do, and Sweetheart would be in order. Grabbing the filter and pan, Jim squirmed under the truck. The feel of warm fur against him informed him that three other interested parties had joined him. "Must not have re-tethered the leashes well enough, well, nothing like a group oil change to bring a family closer." The sentinel groused, dialing up his vision to compensate for the lack of light under the truck.
A deep rumbling laugh filtered down. "Talking to yourself now, detective?" By tilting his head Jim could see the feet of Simon Banks, Captain of Cascade's Major Crimes squad, and his boss.
"No, actually I was talking to my three trainees down here. I figured if they got free room and board the least they could do was oil changes on the vehicles."
"Trainees, Jim?" Banks was baffled, but then Jim frequently baffled him.
The swearing emanating from the truck's nether regions was not good, and boded badly for the trainees. The large black man grabbed the leashes dangling from under the truck and pulled. This was a mistake. A small brown whirlwind, covered in black goop, shot out and leaped on his shoes, attacking the shoelaces with a ferocity worthy only of Sandburg protecting his partner. A larger Black and white bouncing machine, again reminiscent of the cadet, bounced out covered in goop, and proceeded to plant both feet on his shirt as she jumped up in greeting, waging a stump tail for all it was worth.
The detective squirmed out holding a struggling black cat, covered in the same goop as the dogs and covering the detective, who was all ready wearing a coat of the stuff. The two men looked at each other, speechless.
"Sandburg would have something appropriate to say right now, and I wish he were here to say it, because I can't think of a thing, except that I'll get the suit cleaned or replaced." Jim broke the silence as the two men headed for the loft apartment.
"The kid always has something to say. And I'm certain he would have many things to say about this. Beginning with why did you take three animals with you to change the oil on the truck?" Simon waited while Jim fished his keys out and got the door open.
"Take them right to the bathroom Simon. It was a nice day and they all wanted to go out with me. Everything was fine until the oil filter fell apart in my hands and I dropped the oil pan covering all of us in dirty oil," the detective explained while the two men hurriedly shut the unwilling captives in the bathroom.
"Whose animals are they anyways? The kid talk you into opening a pet-sitting service or something?" Simon's eyes were bright with humor.
"Actually, they're Blair's. He had them before he moved in here. They've been living with a friend of his. His friend can't keep them any longer, so now they're here. I have some sweats upstairs you can borrow"
Simon changed into the sweats while Jim collected the suit and shoes, taking both down to the street to the cleaners. Hearing his host returning, Simon headed down.
"I nearly forgot to ask what had you down here," Jim asked his superior while he dug around in the boxes finding the appropriate shampoos.
"Too much overtime without taking vacation hours. I took a half-day and, since it was your day off thought I would see if you could come out and play. I think I should have gone home and changed clothes first, but you were on the way." Seeing the bottles in Jim's hand, Simon snagged Blair's camera off his desk. This was going to be good. With visions of blackmail photos dancing in his head, the captain followed one of his two favorite detectives.
Slinking through the bathroom door, the large dark man collided with his friend, who was standing in shock. Muffit was sitting in the bathtub waiting for some kind person to fill it with water so she could play. Jaguar, like any smart cat shut in the bathroom was hiding behind the toilet, refusing to come out. Burton, being the terrier that he was, had decided that the clothes hamper was someplace that small vermin might be hiding. The Yorkie had then decided that he should check it to make certain that nothing was in the hamper and had knocked it over and pulled out all of the dirty clothes. Most of the clothes were now covered in oil from the dog rolling on them. With a glare at the dog, Jim set the hamper up and dumped the clothes in it.
"Simon, if you could reach around that way, Jag will head this way towards me and I can get hold of him." The tall captain went as indicated, and the cat did his part. A greased pig has nothing on a cat covered in oil. The slick feline shot past Jim, sliding out of his hands and running for the door.
"Simon, stay over there and make certain that he doesn't go behind the toilet again. I'm going to try and calm him down." Jim began approaching the cat again, this time he was speaking to the animals in the same relaxing, soothing tones that a certain guide was heard to use on Sentinels with fear based responses. Jaguar slowly calmed down, letting Jim pick him up and, still speaking in soft soothing tones, hold his legs and gently ease him into the warm water filling the sink. Simon, meanwhile, was getting some great shots of Jim and the cat. Jag had relaxed enough that Jim had let go of his hind legs, freeing up a hand to wash the creature. Burton, having decided that he no longer cared for being ignored, leaped onto the counter, chewing Jim up one side and down the other with excited yips and yaps.
The cat panicked, using all four sets of claws to get loose, Jim jumped at the sudden noise, and Simon grabbed hold of Muffit just as she headed over to join the fun. Simon held the dogs, the smaller of whom had a look of sadistic glee, while Jim began once more to recapture and calm the cat, using the same tones as before.
"Uh, Simon, seeing as I have open scratches on my arms, I'm afraid that you get to do the honors, this time." Jim really was trying not to smile at the look of panic on his captain.
"Forget it, Ellison! I'll hold the dogs, get the towel ready, anything you need, but I am not bathing a cat for you." Simon managed to keep his voice calm and reasonable the whole time.
"Sir, I can't put open wounds in soapy water, I'm afraid that what I need is for you to finish washing Jaguar, while I hold the dogs and keep them quiet so we don't have a repeat performance."
"Jim, I don't have a clue how to handle a cat. I've always had dogs," the larger man complained as he eyed the cat warily.
"I would say just treat him like you would one of your detectives, but he doesn't follow orders. It's more like he is the supreme ruler and we are here merely on his sufferance and to meet his every need and desire," Jim replied, straight faced.
"I have a few detectives that don't follow orders as well, detective. In fact, hand that cat over mister, I think I know how to handle this." Simon gently took the uncertain feline from his friend's hands, and walked over to the sink. Holding his feet like he had seen Jim do, he lowered the cat into the sink, telling him how nice and warm the water was and how much better he would feel all nice and clean. Ten minutes later the cat was still not clean, but Simon was getting hoarse.
"I don't think the shampoo is doing it, Jim." Simon commented as he attempted to wash the cat for the third time. "The stuff isn't coming out but the water is getting nasty."
"I'm going to try something, Captain." Jim turned on the shower, leaving Muffit playing in the water, and with Burton tucked under his arm, Jim slipped out of the bathroom and returned a moment later with a container of dish soap. "I figured that dish soap is made to remove grease, and that using the handheld shower massage we won't have to constantly be changing the water."
"I knew there was a reason you made detective!" Simon smiled, still holding the now calm cat.
"Okay, You hold the cat and scrub, I'll work the shower head."
"Sounds like a plan." Simon moved slowly towards the shower and the showerhead so that Jaguar could get use to the sound and feel of the shower-massage.
After twenty minutes of soaping then rinsing and repeating the process, the cat was finally clean.
"I thought you said that you didn't know how to handle a cat, Simon?" Jim looked up from the final rinsing.
"When you explained that he doesn't listen and believes that he is the supreme power with the rest of us here only to serve his whims, I figured if he was going to act like a politician, then I would treat him like one." Simon smiled at the cat that was now sitting at the door.
"And how does one treat a politician, sir?"
"Stroke their ego by assuring them that they are in charge and know everything, while doing a verbal tap dance with the truth and committing yourself to nothing." Simon smiled at his amused friend.
Jim had put some antiseptic on the scratches that had now stopped bleeding, and so deemed himself fit for the job of canine beautician.
He pushed Muffit to one side and prepared to shower the dog down. Simon got some wonderful shots of Jim trying to work around the spaniel who was trying to play in the same water that Jim was using to wash and rinse her. She had found it particularly fun to try and push Jim into the shower. He was as wet as she was by the third round of rinsing.
"Muffit, you keep pushing like this and I'm going to start calling you Cassie!" Jim groused as the dog tried once more to get him to play with her in the indoor water fountain.
Washing the spaniel proved to be easy as she liked to be in the water and having the undivided attention of one of her humans was a plus as far as she was concerned. The main problem being she wanted to play instead of standing to get soaped and rinsed. Simon got some pictures, but when Jim began clenching his jaw, Simon got up and manned the shower head so that the younger man could use both hands for the dog.
"Muffit would you get out of the way? You had your bath, it's Burton's turn now!" The former ranger was finding this to not be the easy mission he had expected. Muffit had kept jumping back in the tub and trying to play with the terrier while Jim was trying to shower the grease and oil off him. Giving in, the large man had simply begun trying to wash the smaller dog around her. Simon was ready once more with the camera. And once more, ended up operating the shower head.
By 4:30 all three animals were clean but wet, and the two men were soaked All three of the animals wanted out. Jim and Simon were getting the hair dryer out, having decided that it was the only way to really get the animals dry enough to be around and on the furniture. Four heads came up just as the front door was heard opening. Before the warning was heard, Captain Bank's future detective opened the door, and all three animals shot past in a break for freedom. Shaking water from themselves as they went, the animals rolled all over the couch, love seat, and rug. Almost feeling dry, they ran up and finished drying themselves by rolling the last of the water off on Jim's bed. The men watched in shocked silence.
"They dried themselves on my bed, Sandburg." The sentinel almost growled out.
"Umm, Oops. I'll, uh, get it dry-cleaned." Blair tried to look as sorry as he felt.
"You call for the Chinese this time and we'll call it even." Jim smiled at his contrite guide.
"I'm down with that," Blair agreed before his roommate could change his mind.
"You call it in, and I'll go throw the clothes from the hamper in the washer." Jim called as he and Simon went upstairs to change into some dry sweats. After coming down carrying his and Simon's greasy, soaked clothes, Jim grabbed the hamper from the bathroom and headed for the washer in the basement, snagging the pre-treat spray on the way.
Banks listened for the door to the stairs from the hallways to close, then approached the younger man holding out the camera.
"In this camera is a roll of highly valuable evidence in a case pending, involving your partner. Your job, detective, is to develop this film and see that it gets to my desk." Simon was smiling, with his arm around his younger friend.
"Do I dare ask what exactly this case against my training officer is?" Blair asked, grinning conspiratorially.
"Word is that Jim can not make people laugh, that he simply is not funny. But these shots of Jim trying to bathe those animals is going to provide evidence to the contrary."
"Oh, man. I can guarantee you, sir, that I will not fail in you in my first assignment." Blair smiled wickedly.
"I knew I could count on you." Simon smiled at the future detective while seeing visions of Jim on film.
The three men were sitting at the table enjoying their meal, when a yowling, reminiscent of some animal dying, nearly deafened the trio. Blair calmly got up and went into the living room to see Jaguar pinned under Muffit's paws. The cadet let the feline loose and sent Muffit to lay down in the far corner, away from the other animals and people.
Shaking his head, he rejoined the two older men, commenting about children. A second scream, ten minutes later, had Sandburg once again leaving his meal, to find that Muffit had left her corner and was torturing the cat again. Sighing, he checked the cat for injuries and seeing none, let him go. This time, Muffit was scolded and put in her crate in Blair's room. Sad brown eyes watched as he left his room, leaving her alone.
Blair once more returned to his interrupted meal. The two men were grinning at him as he grumbled about misbehaving children.
"I was curious, just for the record Sandburg, Jim owns the cat and you own the two dogs, right?" Simon was smiling at the two men with his 'I am the Captain and I will get to the bottom of this' smile.
"Well, yes, I guess so. I mean we kind of own all three of the animals together." Blair was starting to get nervous.
"Jim might own the cat, but who is responsible for the cat's box?" Simon grinned as Jim suddenly had a look of puzzlement on his face.
"Chief, Where is the cat's box? I don't remember getting a box for him." Jim was beginning to look concerned.
"Jaguar doesn't use a box, guys, he's toilet trained." Blair grinned at the astonished men.
"My senses thank whoever decided to teach him that." Jim looked heavenward in thanks.
"That would be Allen. he didn't want to mess with a box." Blair smiled at his companions.
Jim turned towards the living room, causing Blair to look over just in time to see Jag wrap himself in Burton's paws and start screaming bloody murder. Simon laughed, as Jim picked up the cat and sent him upstairs, while Blair got a biscuit and gave Muffit a treat, while releasing her from her false imprisonment.
The three men lounged on the couches and watched the game. Jim having discovered that both dogs loved popcorn and would catch it mid-air, spent half the game involved in a game of his own, resulting in the two dogs eating half the bowl. Jaguar stayed upstairs and napped.
Blair grabbed his camera as the two residents of the loft went to see their guest out.
"Too late, Sandburg. I already took the roll of film. These pictures are now safe from the breakroom bulletin board." Jim smiled, holding up a roll of film.
"Sorry, sir, I gave it my best." Blair looked guiltily at Simon.
"It's okay, further evidence will have to be found." Simon comforted Blair.
As he walked to his car, the police Captain felt in his pocket and found a container of film there with a note: S.B. -- I told you I wouldn't fail! Jim only has my last vacation photos. -- B.S.
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