It's Not Easy Being Green by Kerensa

It’s Not Easy Being Green - Kerensa

Crime was being conspicuously absent this week, as if the criminals had collectively decided to take a vacation and had staged a mass exodus from Cascade. Exit stage left, chased by a bear.+ The resulting quiet had been a boon for Records, because files were completed on time for once. There had also been an upsweep in the solving of several cold cases, including a memorable murder case from 1974.

The big problem with all of this silence was the resulting rise in boredom among the police officers, particularly in the specialty departments, like Major Crimes. So, the men and women had looked for creative ways to pass the time.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Henri Brown, Brian Rafe and Joey Henderson were engaged in a game that was a cross between Strip Poker and Truth or Dare. Since they were currently sitting in the Major Crimes bullpen there, wasn’t much strip going on with the poker. Instead, when one of the men lost a hand they had to choose to either tell the truth to an asked question, or do some sort of dare. Considering how creative H Brown could be, most people opted for the ‘truth’ consequence.

H laid his cards on the desk, spread wide like a virgin sacrifice, and grinned in a particularly toothsome way. Rafe and Henderson groaned at the winning hand and tossed their cards down, in Joey’s case in a not very good sportsmanship way; this was the 5th hand in a row that he’d lost and he wasn’t looking forward to the cost.

“Alright!” Brown crowed.

He glanced around the room, his eyes lighting on one person and object after another, seeking out a suitable revenge. He gave Rhonda a brief glance, but quickly moved on. As Simon’s personal secretary, the blond woman’s job never really slacked off. Besides, you didn’t want to mess with the person responsible for filing your overtime and vacation forms. Henri gave an imperceptible shudder when he thought of the chaos that she could cause without even trying.

With an evil grin on his handsome face, one that showed every white tooth in his head, Brown turned back to Henderson. Even Rafe quaked at the look he was giving the other man. Henri’s ‘dare’ turned out to involve Ellie Hollis and two roller derby tickets. Several minutes later, a thoroughly embarrassed Joey sat back down.

“Well?” H asked his fellow detective.

“She said no,” Henderson admitted.

He seemed a little put out at the refusal, probably because Joey was what could be described in no uncertain terms as a hunk. He stood 6’2” with muscled arms and shoulders that bore testimony to his extensive use of weights. His blond hair and vivid green eyes were striking enough that he generally didn’t lack for female companionship. Being turned down by the rather average looking filing clerk was a blow to his well deserved ego.

“Well, of course she did,” Rafe said with a roll of his eyes. He too was a good looking man and loved to dress very well, but he didn’t let it go to his head the way Henderson did.

“Why do you say that, babe?” Henri asked with a tilt of his dark head. While H Brown wasn’t as dashingly handsome as Henderson, or as natty of a dresser as Brian, his outgoing personality kept him supplied with more than his fair share of dates as well.

Brian crossed his arms and shook his head at the other two men. “Some detectives you are. She’s married. Happily married to Freddie Hollis up in Homicide.”

Henderson’s eyes got as big as saucers and even Henri looked worried at that. Fred Hollis was a giant of a man, taller than even Captain Banks, by several inches, and had a very well known jealous streak. This didn’t bode well for the pair of them if and when Ellie told him about the day’s events.

“Plus, she’s pregnant,” Rafe said quietly.

Both H and Joey’s heads jerked up in surprise. They looked over to where the young woman in question was bending over the copier. A small, but obvious bump was noticeable under her skirt. Henderson thumped his head on the desk when he realized how oblivious he’d been.

“Ah well,” Henri sighed. He finished the can of cola that he’d been drinking and then mashed the aluminum between his hands. The detective gave the recycling can across the room a weary glance and shrugged. “The hell with it. I just don’t want to get up right now.” He tossed the crushed can into the trash can between his and Rafe’s desk.

Two desks over, Blair glanced up at the metallic sound and gave a little frown. Brown saw it and winced, feeling guilty over his laziness. Henderson watched the by-play and peered over the edge of the waste receptacle. “I wonder how long it takes for a can like that to decompose?” he mused out loud.

Rafe shrugged. “I wouldn’t think that long. I mean look how quickly the bumper on a car can rust and fall apart.”

“I bet Sandburg would know,” H said with an eager smile. He was imitating the Life cereal commercial where ‘Mikey will eat anything’. Blair, of course, was Mikey. “Hey, Hairboy. How long does it take for a can to fall apart?”

Blair glanced up at the question. Like Rhonda, he too always had something to do and was busy grading several papers when Brown interrupted him. However, he was used to interruptions and took the detective’s question in stride.

“It depends. If the can is tin, it takes about 100 years and if it’s aluminum, it only takes about 500 years.” Blair’s gaze flicked to the trash can. “So go ahead and throw your drink can away. Hey, it’s no big deal. Your great-great-grandkid’s great-grandkids can play with it.”

Henri blinked in surprise at the derision in Blair’s voice. He knew that the anthropologist had been trying to get them to do more for the environment for months, but he hadn’t realized it was that bad.

“Five hundred years?” he questioned. Blair nodded and Henri fished the can out of the trash and walked across the room to put it in the plastic recycling box. “Maybe living green wouldn’t be so bad,” he murmured.

Henri looked back at the grad student who had gone back to his paperwork. Brown thought about all of the little, and some not so little, facts that Sandburg tended to spout off and realized they weren’t the younger man showing off. Maybe he’d pay closer attention from now on. Who knows what they had already missed.

++++

“Damnit, Sandburg. What the hell is this crap?” Jim held up the shiny metal colander that had a healthy amount of noodles in them. Green noodles.

“Noodles, man,” Blair said self evidently, not looking up from the sideboard where he was chopping onions and green peppers.

“I know that, Darwin. Why the hell are they green?”

Blair looked over at Ellison’s curled up lip and braced himself for the backlash. He had only been living with the detective for about 2 and a half months and Jim fought him over every attempt to provide healthier food alternatives.

“Because they’re made out of spinach,” Blair said. He sat the knife down and turned to face the Sentinel.

“Why the hell would we want to eat spinach noodles? What’s wrong with the plain ones anyway?” Jim let the strainer drop back into the sink with a thump.

“The regular noodles aren’t as healthy for you. Besides, these taste just as good,” Blair promised. He was mentally crossing his fingers and hoping that the Sentinel wouldn’t taste a difference that other people couldn’t.

“Yeah, well. But green.”

Blair rolled his eyes at the whine the other man gave. “You do want to live to see 40 don’t you?” Jim turned to glare at him. Blair raised his hands in the air in a placating manner. “Hey, man. All that grease and fat from your Double Wonderburger and family sized fries at lunch could lube your truck. Just think what that’s doing to the inside of your heart and veins.”

Jim winced and flapped his hand at Blair. “Alright, alright. I’ll try it.”

Sandburg turned back to finish preparing their dinner. He was surprised, no, make that stunned, that Jim had given in so easily. Blair had been fully prepared to end up throwing the pasta out. In fact, he had a bag of the regular stuff in one of the cabinets, just in case.

“What about these?” Jim was holding up three plastic grocery bags in one hand.

“Well, I know that I don’t want to eat them,” Blair responded dryly.

“Ha ha. I heard you and Henri talking in the bullpen today and I was wondering how long it takes these bags to fall apart.”

A part of Blair wanted to find out where Jim had been when he’d overheard them talking, because it had to be quite a distance away. He told the enthusiastic inner anthropologist to settle down, though. The grad student could tell that Jim was really interested, whereas Brown and the other guys at the station had just been messing around, seeing what bit of minutiae he could come up with.

“Man, it takes those puppies 1,000 years to begin to decompose.”

The Sentinel’s mouth fell open. He looked at the innocent bits of plastic in his hand and frowned. “A thousand years?!” Blair nodded solemnly. “Crap! We get dozens of these every week.”

“Yep. And I take them back to the store to be recycled too.”

“You do?” Jim asked in amazement.

“Yeah. There’s a box inside the front entrance where you can return them.”

“I’ve never noticed that before,” Jim admitted. He opened the lower cabinet door, bent over and retrieved about 20 more bags. He then stuffed all of them into one bag, making a nice, neat container. “I’ll take these back the next time I go,” he promised.

Blair smiled and nodded.

++++

Jim ate the pasta. Even he couldn’t find enough difference in the taste to complain about. But the sight of green pasta and red tomato sauce was more than a little off putting.

“Hey, Chief. How about if we serve this the next time there’s a poker game.”

“Sure, Jim. Sounds good to me.”

‘After all,’ Jim thought evilly, ‘I might as well freak the others out too.’

Blair thought he heard evil snickers later that night, but decided his imagination had gone into overtime.

++++

The grad student laid his head on his desk with a muffled thump—there were way too many papers littering the surface for his cranium to make much of a noise—and sighed tiredly. It was—he cracked one eye open to look at the clock on his desk and saw that it was—2:13 in the morning. Blair had just finished a marathon grading session and he was worn out.

The day had started out, as they all seemed to nowadays, with Blair waking up already tired and then going as fast as he could. The test papers should have been done three days ago, but late hours on stakeout with Jim, followed by several more hours of paperwork at the station, had seriously cut into his university time.

So, now he was finally caught up, but the observer had no reserves left. He eyed the rolled up sleeping bag that he kept in a corner behind some of the storage shelves and was giving serious consideration to just sleeping on the floor of his office when he heard a rustling sound outside his door.

Blair’s head shot up and he watched the darkened orifice. His shoulders were tense and Blair could feel his heart pounding in his throat. The building was supposed to be empty, except for himself, of course. There were security guards that did the rounds of the university, but they had already been by once tonight and weren’t due for another two or three hours, if then. So who…

Knock. Knock.

“Sandburg. It’s me, Ellison.”

Blair let out a puff of relieved air. He had to grin, though. As if he wouldn’t recognize the Sentinel’s voice.

“Come on in, Jim,” Blair called out, but not too loudly. It wasn’t as if the Sentinel needed the extra volume and the grad student’s headache would definitely appreciate the quiet.

The door opened with a creak. Jim winced at the sound, as did Blair. He made a mental note to dig out his can of WD-40 as soon as possible. Unbeknownst to the teaching fellow, Ellison was planning on finding his can of lubricant as well.

Sandburg felt himself tense up slightly at the scowl on Ellison’s face. Not that a scowl was all that unusual for the uptight older man, but this time it seemed especially fearsome. Blair hoped that Jim wasn’t mad at him.

“Hey, man. What’re you doing here?”

“Collecting my friend,” Jim stated.

Blair sat up straighter in his chair. The grad student knew that he considered Ellison as a friend, but he wasn’t sure how Jim saw him. Sometimes it seemed like he was little more than a nuisance. A necessary nuisance to be sure, at least until the Sentinel had better control of his senses, but still an annoyance. To hear Jim calling him ‘friend’ was a real boost to his self esteem.

“Collecting me? Why, man?” Blair asked in all sincerity.

Ellison shook his head. “Chief, you’ve been on the go for the better part of a week. If you’ve gotten more than 20 hours of sleep this week, I’ll eat my hat.”

Blair grinned at that image, but had to agree. He hadn’t been getting very much sleep. It wasn’t surprising that his roommate had noticed, but again, it was really nice to have someone who cared.

“…haven’t been eating right and you’re about to fall on your face.”

Since Blair had done his own version of a zone out and had missed part of what the other man was saying, he didn’t really know what to say. Jim nodded his head once as if confirming his assumption.

“Come on, Chief. It’s time to go home.” Jim had Blair’s jacket already in his hand. He picked up the younger man’s backpack and placed his laptop inside.

The younger man didn’t protest as he was led outside to where Jim’s truck was waiting. He leaned his head back on the seat and closed his eyes, just for a few minutes, naturally. The next thing he knew, Ellison was shaking his shoulder.

“Come on, Kiddo. Up and at ‘em.”

“I’m not a kid,” Blair said. Even to his own ears he could hear how petulant and child like that he sounded. He gave a self depreciating snort and added, “Most of the time anyway.”

“I know you’re not. It’s just fun to tease you,” Jim admitted.

Blair turned in the small elevator and looked at the detective, surprised by his honesty. Jim shrugged.

“I don’t always say how much I appreciate all that you do, for me and my senses, but I am grateful.”

Maybe it was how tired Blair was, or the time of night, or hell, maybe because the moon was full, but the Sentinel’s words touched Blair’s heart and had tears welling up in his eyes. The observer didn’t know what to say and it wasn’t until they were inside the loft that he finally answered.

“Thanks, Jim. That means a lot to me. So does,” he waved an arm around, indicating a home to live in and caring enough to go get Blair when it was so late.

Ellison nodded his understanding. He too believed in actions more than words. That’s what made his admission to Blair all the more telling.

“You’d better get to bed, Chief.”

Blair yawned, his jaw making a cracking noise that had the Sentinel wincing in empathy. “You too, Big Guy.”

Jim nodded. “At least we have the weekend off. Maybe that way we can both catch up on some sleep.”

“I am so down with that,” Blair stated, heading into the bathroom for the fastest bathroom break he could manage.

++++

The smell of coffee was what finally woke Blair up the next afternoon. He gazed unseeingly at the little alarm clock on his nightstand for several seconds before his fuzzy mind registered the time.

“1:18!” he exclaimed in amazement.

Jim’s laughter could easily be heard through the curtain over Blair’s door. The anthropologist glared at where he figured the Sentinel was probably standing. He pulled himself out of the bed and staggered into the kitchen.

“Yuck it up, Jim.”

Ellison took one look at Blair’s hair, which was standing straight out from his head, and gave a snort. He bit his lip, trying to stifle the sounds of mirth, but wasn’t very successful. Blair decided to ignore the other man’s behavior, after all, he knew what his hair looked like in the morning, err, afternoon.

“I can’t believe I slept that long,” Blair admitted.

“You needed the rest, Chief.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” The grad student took a sip of the coffee that Ellison had handed him and choked. “What is this, man?”

“Instant coffee,” Jim admitted with a frown. “It’s all we had. We desperately need to do some grocery shopping.”

“I guess so, if you’re drinking this stuff.”

“Uh huh. So, what do we need?” Jim asked, picking up a pencil and an old envelope to write a list on.

Blair smiled when he saw what the Sentinel was using to write on. Envelopes, or even the backs of junk mail, made perfect scratch paper and saved on trees. As an added bonus, they could then be recycled. Speaking of which…

“What in the… Jim, why did you throw this away?” Blair fished the empty coffee jar out of the trash can.

“Huh?” The ex-Ranger looked at the glass jar in Blair’s hand and gave a tired sigh. “Sorry about that. I forgot to put it in the bin.”

Sandburg rinsed the jar and then carefully sat it in the recycling can by the stove, the one with the distinctive three arrows going in a circle. The container had old newspapers, tin cans, glass, etc. sitting side by side.

Blair talked with Jim the whole time he was doing this, naming off things they needed to buy. When he turned around, Sandburg found Jim watching him. Feeling more than a little self conscious, Blair crossed his arms across his chest and looked back.

“How long does it take glass to decompose?” Jim asked.

The teacher hadn’t been expecting that question, but, as always, he knew the answer. “Man, glass doesn’t decompose, ever.”

“Never?” Jim asked in amazement.

“Nope. Glass objects have been found in Egyptian tombs and were in the same shape as when they were first made. And that was before the advanced refining techniques we have today. Why, the thick glass we churn out now would probably outlast the cockroaches in a nuclear war.”

“Let’s hope we don’t ever test that theory, Chief.”

“Amen to that, Jim. Amen to that.”

“Come on; let’s go get the stuff on our list. There’s a game on tonight that I don’t want to miss.”

“No problem.”

Blair hurried into the bathroom to try and tame his hair down. In a relatively short 20 minutes, both men were heading out the door; Jim had the list and Blair had a handful of plastic bags to take back.

Just another day in the life.

The End.

Back to the Gendex

A/N: The title is from a quote by Kermit the Frog, from the Muppets. The idea for the story was inspired by Patt’s wonderful pic.

+ If you don’t recognize this line, then read up on your Shakespeare!

Betaed: by Bobbie, beta goddess!