New Arrivals
Author-ElaineH
Titles

Lollipop, Lollipop 2
Part One
by ElaineH

Summary: The obligatory 'Jim, Blair, and Simon go camping' story. This is a sequel to Lollipop, Lollipop.

Disclaimer: Jim, Blair, Simon, and The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, UPN, and Paramount and no copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Notes: Thanks to my beta reader, Judy, for taking the time to read this and making suggestions that really helped flesh out the story, and most of all for encouraging me. This story is dedicated to the memory of Di Ann, the inspiration for the humor in everything I write. Feedback is welcomed and encouraged.

Blair stumbled from his bedroom to the kitchen, eyes half-open, and took a seat at the kitchen table. He ran a hand through his mussed up hair.

Jim sat across from him reading the Saturday morning paper and sipping his second cup of coffee.

"Rough night?" he asked, barely repressing a snicker.

"Yeah." Blair blew the hair out of his eyes, too tired to raise his hand and push it out of the way.

"Is there any more coffee left?" The hopeful look in his eyes bordered on desperate. Jim almost smiled.

"Yep. The pot's been on for a while though, so it might be a little strong."

Blair made his way to the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. Taking a sip, his eyes widened in shock.

"A little strong! It's gonna straighten the hair on my chest!" But it was working to wake him up. His eyes felt, and looked, like they were bursting from his head now. Jim valiantly stifled another snicker.

"What time did you get home last night?" he asked.

"Late. 2 or 3 o'clock."

"What did you two end up doing?"

"We went to that exhibit at the museum, then to the fair down on the waterfront, then over to this bar she knows, and then her place afterwards with some friends from the bar."

"Sounds... busy," said Jim, trying to keep a straight face.

"Yeah." Blair looked at Jim a little more closely. Was that sarcasm? Jim was studiously reading the paper. Must have been my imagination, thought Blair.

"Jim, are you doing anything tonight?"

"Why do you ask?"

"Oh, no reason, really. I thought if you weren't then I'd invite you to join us. Misty asked me if you ever got out of the house and that maybe I should ask you to come along tonight."

"Actually, I have a date tonight. But, thanks for asking." Jim got up and took his now empty cup over to the kitchen sink to wash it.

"Ok." Blair went over to the refrigerator to look for something to make for breakfast.

Jim breathed a silent sigh of relief. He'd gotten himself out of that rather nicely. There was no way he wanted to go out with Blair and his new girlfriend. They made a very 'odd couple'. He'd met her several times. He almost laughed out loud again when he thought of her name: 'Misty'. If anyone was misnamed it was Blair's girlfriend. The name 'Misty' made him think of a soft, ethereal woman. He remembered a conversation he had had with Simon after the two civilians had breezed in and out of Major Crimes one day:

"You know Jim, that's a lot of woman for Sandburg to take on!" Simon said after the couple had left the bullpen.

"Yeah. Do you believe her name is Misty?" Jim said with a slight upward quirk to his lips.

"All I can say is her parents were way off base there." Simon returned his gaze to the woman, who was standing at the elevator with Blair. She was almost as tall as Jim with broad shoulders, slim and fit, but amply endowed. She looked like a beautiful Amazon wearing jeans and t-shirts. One could easily imagine her in 'Xena's' costume. There was no doubt that she was a 'looker'. She had just tossed a predatory gaze at Simon, Jim noticed, when Blair had been distracted by something else at the elevator. Jim could swear Simon was blushing as he stared at her.

"Yeah, I think she's got "Danger -- Hazardous Material" written all over her," said Jim.

"You got that right," said Simon, quickly looking away from Misty. "I think Sandburg needs to invest in a Haz-Mat suit because that relationship is gonna explode one day. I don't think the course of 'true love' will ever run smoothly as long as that young woman is involved."

Misty was about five years older than Blair and a new teaching fellow at Rainier. Although built along Amazonian lines she was also as aggressive as any male Jim had ever met. He still couldn't figure out how Blair had hooked up with her. Or why she was so attracted to Blair. She loved to manhandle him and had more energy than three Sandburgs combined. Even Blair had trouble keeping up with her.

Jim went back to his paper so he could continue his contemplation of his friend's love life in peace. Actually, it was interesting to watch them together. Misty seemingly had no inhibitions and was as easy-going and cheerful as Sandburg. Out of the blue, she would often pull Blair up to her no matter who was around or where they were, try to stick her tongue halfway down his throat and maul him. By the time she would let him go (usually with a knowing grin), he looked like he was shell-shocked and his knees wouldn't hold him up. And he would have the goofiest expression on his face for the rest of the day. Blair usually spent the rest of their time together following her around eagerly and doing whatever she asked him. She treated him like he was a brand new puppy, fawning over him and calling him all sorts of pet names. It was downright funny to watch and Jim often had to smother a grin around them.

She seemed genuinely fond of Sandburg, though. Jim was pretty sure, however, that she was way out of his league and that Blair had never gone out with anyone like her before. That predatory gaze she'd let loose on Simon, had also been thrown his way more than once when Blair wasn't watching. Jim made sure to stay very much away from her. Misty was definitely not his type and he didn't want his partner, or his partner's girlfriend, to think otherwise.

Although she seemed none the worse for wear due to their 'busy' nights together, Sandburg was starting to wear down. Every time they went out together, he got home later and later. He was having more and more trouble getting up in the morning and he was starting to drag during the day. Jim was pretty sure that she could talk Sandburg into just about anything as long as it wasn't illegal. Jim wondered how long it would last. The guys down at the station had already placed bets on how long it would be before one of them would dump the other after the couple had stopped by the station that one time. She had given Blair a good 'going-over' in full view of everyone. Jim thought he would actually miss her when they broke up. This was more entertainment than he'd had in quite a while.

Blair came back to the table with a glass of juice and a piece of toast.

"I don't know why I'm so tired lately," he said with a frown.

Jim quickly held his paper up higher to cover his smile, which just wouldn't stay repressed at this comment. Love really is blind, he mused. Poor Sandburg was truly 'clueless'.

"Well, maybe you can take a nap this afternoon or something for tonight."

"Yeah, maybe."

They spent a rather quiet Saturday together doing some light housekeeping, running errands, and grocery shopping. By the time that was done, it was time for both of them to get ready for their dates.

Jim spent a rather pleasant evening with a woman he had recently met. They went to dinner and a movie and made an early night of it, since she was leaving town on business the next day. He walked in to the loft and hung up his coat. As he was pouring himself a drink, he heard Blair's car downstairs. Wow, he thought. Sandburg is home early after a date with Misty. Must have been a slow night. That or they had a fight. He sat down on the couch and turned on the TV. In a few minutes, he heard the key in the lock and Blair came in.

"Hi," said Jim. "You're home early."

Yeah," said Blair desultorily.

Jim looked over at him. His head was hanging down, his shoulders were slumped, and he looked like the world had ended.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"We broke up tonight," said Blair, with a mournful look on his face.

"Gee, I'm sorry, Chief. Wanna talk about it?"

Blair looked at him speculatively with his hands in his pockets. "No. I think I'm just going to go to bed."

"Hey, why don't you watch this movie on TV with me? It's still pretty early for a Saturday night."

"Don't remind me, ok Jim?" he said grumpily. "I'm tired. I'll see you in the morning."

He stalked over to his room and shut the door firmly behind him.

Jim could hear him getting ready for bed. After a while he could hear Blair sniffling. This break-up was really hitting him pretty hard. But, Blair usually bounced back quickly. Jim estimated about three days to get back to his normal, happy, energetic self.

One week later, his partner was still moping around the loft and refusing to talk about it. Jim couldn't figure it out. Blair absolutely refused to discuss it, but was clearly still pining over her. Jim's normally cheerful roommate was becoming moody and morose.

Jim had finally had enough one night after an especially trying day at work. He had come home to a depressed looking roommate laying on the couch watching an animal nature show about mating habits and talking to the TV; saying things like "Hey, you don't need her, she'll just dump you later -- be a man and resist -- and you call yourself the 'king of the beasts'?" and "Stupid spider -- stay away from her, man -- they're nothing but trouble! -- Typical... she just can't stand to leave him happy so she EATS him... Oh man, that is so gross!"

He had to do something to distract Blair from his problems. After talking to Simon that day about Blair's mood swings, he had come up with what he thought was the perfect idea. He decided to approach him with it after dinner that night.

As they were doing the dishes, Jim said "Hey Chief. I think you and I need a vacation. I know you have some time off from school next week, so why don't we do something together?"

Blair looked at him, somewhat surprised. "Well, I guess I could use a break from the normal routine. What did you have in mind?"

"I was thinking of a camping trip. I know this really beautiful spot by Barron Lake. I camped there once before and I've always wanted to go back. The weather's fine and I could even ask Simon and Darryl to go with us."

Blair looked at him as a little spark of interest grew in his eyes.

"Barron Lake? I've always wanted to go there! There's an Indian burial ground nearby and some of the grad students in anthropology have told me that it's really cool. And there are a couple of really good hiking trails, plus..."

"Whoa, slow down," said Jim in amusement. "Sounds like that's a yes, right?"

"Oh man, Jim, this is going to be so much fun! I can try out that new sleeping bag you gave me for Christmas, and we can cook over an open fire, oh and we can use that new tent your dad gave you for your birthday..."

Blair chattered on as Jim listened to him with half an ear. Well, that was easy, he thought. Maybe Blair would open up about his failed relationship too, while they were camping. Jim knew that Blair wasn't used to keeping such things to himself and figured that it would probably spew forth in the woods.


The day for their departure finally came and they were up early to finish packing. Simon was going to pick them up in his new Explorer.

Jim put his bag and equipment by the door and looked at his watch; plenty of time to spare. Now if he could just light a fire under Sandburg.

"Sandburg, what are you doing?"

"I'm just... gotta get my... know it's here... just a minute... such a freakin' timekeeper..." came floating back to him.

Jim walked over to Blair's room and peered in. All he could see was Sandburg's rear end sticking in the air while he was trying to get something from under his bed. "Got it!" he said triumphantly and backed out from under the bed. He held up an old, grungy backpack in the air, with dust bunnies clinging to it as well as his hair and face.

"This is my lucky backpack. Can't go camping without it."

"Geez, Sandburg, when was the last time you cleaned under your bed? Looks like a breeding ground for dust bunnies under there."

"Well, excuse me, Martha Stewart. Not everyone is so fussy about cleaning under their bed. It's not like anyone is ever going to see under there, you know."

"Sandburg, I can see under there. And I am NOT fussy!

"No, of course you're not," said Blair with a smile. "We only have color-coded Tupperware because you like the pretty colors. And you only follow me around with a paper towel when I'm eating a sandwich because you just looove being near me, and I have to leave the salt and pepper shakers to the right of the toaster and not the left because, because... hey, why DO I have to put them there, anyway, huh, Jim?"

"Ok, ok, that's enough," said Jim, giving him a little 'thwap' on the head. "Get a move on, will you? Simon should be here in a few minutes." He turned and picked up Blair's bag and went back to the living room.

"I'll be right out," yelled Blair. "Just have to get a couple more things."

He pulled some underwear from his drawers and stopped as he caught sight of a plastic bag shoved in the back of the drawer. He pulled it out. It was full of blueberry lollipops. Hey, I forgot I had these, he thought. Well, he was going to be on vacation, so he might as well live a little. He threw them in his backpack, and then, as an afterthought, he opened the bag, pulled a handful of suckers out and stashed them in his jeans pocket. He pulled a few more things out of his drawers and stuck them in the backpack and then heard Jim yell "Chief, Simon's here! Get your tail out here!"

"Be right there!" He zipped up the backpack and went into the living room. Simon was there.

"Hey, Simon. Where's Darryl?"

"Oh, he had to cancel at the last minute. Joan's brother decided to get married on the spur of the moment and wants Darryl for his best man. I told him to go ahead. We can go camping any time. His uncle only gets married once. If he's lucky. Never could stand him, myself, but his saving grace is that he's really fond of Darryl."

"Are you sure you want to go with us still?" asked Jim.

"Sure, I need to get away and relax. The Hawthorne case is finally over and I've got some free time so this is actually perfect."

They loaded Simon's car and then argued over who got to sit up front.

"Hey man, I need to sit up there because I get carsick when I sit in the back too long," said Blair.

"No way, Chief. I'm going to help Simon navigate. I need to sit up there."

"I could do that..."

"No!" Simon and Jim said at the same time.

Blair glared at them.

"I'd like to actually end up in the same state as the lake, thank you," said Simon.

"Geez, you just make a wrong turn a couple of times and everybody thinks you can't find your way out of a paper bag. I was only a few miles off track..."

"Try 40," said Jim.

"In the wrong direction," added Simon.

"That's not fair!" protested Blair.

"How about a test?" said Simon.

"What?" said Jim and Blair, puzzled.

"A test," he repeated. "The winner sits up front. Ok, guys, quick -- point north... now!"

Jim pointed north quickly as Sandburg pointed west.

"For Pete's sake, Sandburg, we're standing right out in front of your home!" said Simon.

"I got confused! You did it too quick! My shoulder hurts! Let's do it again, I know I can pass!"

"Too late, Junior," said Jim smugly. "You get the back." He started to climb in.

"Wait," said Simon holding up his hand. "Sandburg, you sit in the back and then we can switch halfway through if you feel sick. But when I need Jim to help me navigate, then you switch again, understood?"

"Ok," said Blair, giving in gracefully.

As he passed Jim while getting in the back seat, Jim made little smooching sounds with his lips at him.

"Cut it out, Jim," said Blair with lowered eyebrows.

Jim grinned and climbed in the front. Blair settled himself in the back and then dug in his backpack for a book. Jim turned around and reached a hand back to tug his hair. Without looking, Blair grabbed his hand before he touched his hair.

"Not the hair, man! You know you're getting slow in your old age. I could see you coming from a mile away!" He said with a grin.

Jim's other hand shot out and ruffled his hair before Blair could grab it.

"Wouldn't want to muss up that beautiful 'do' now, would we?" he said with a smirk while Blair yelled and grabbed both his hands and held them away from him.

"You're just jealous!" said Blair with a sneer.

"All right, you two. Am I going to have to separate you? Settle down and behave. It's a long ride and I don't want to have to spend it being the 'adult' of the group."

"Oh never fear, Simon. Nobody would ever mistake you for the adult of this little group," said Jim turning around with a grin after shaking Blair's hands off of him.

"Yeah, Simon. Maybe they would me, but not you and definitely not Jim," said Blair with a straight face, leaning forward over the seat.

Simon rolled his eyes. "Just what I need -- two third-rate comedians for the whole trip."

"Hey, we resemble that remark!" said Jim, grinning. Blair giggled. Simon started the car with a mock sigh of exasperation and they pulled out.

Jim spread the map out and talked to Simon about the route they were going to be taking.

Blair settled back and read for a while. After he tired of this, he put the book away and felt his stomach growl.

"Hey, when do we stop for breakfast?"

"Another half-hour and there should be some place to eat," said Jim. "Can you wait that long?"

"I guess." He settled back and felt something in his pocket. He pulled out a lollypop and decided that was just what he needed until they stopped. He pulled the plastic off and stuck it in his mouth. Jim turned around.

"What's that you've got there, Chief?" he asked.

"Lo'eepop," said Blair around the candy in his mouth. He pulled it out and showed it to Jim.

"Want one?"

"No, thanks," said Jim.

"Ask Simon."

Jim turned to Simon.

"I heard. No thanks, Sandburg. Aren't those the lollipops I bought for you when you got hurt at school a while back? I know they were all blue."

"Yeah, they're good."

"I got them at that health food store next to the drug store. I know you like to shop there."

"Um hum," said Blair. He sat back against the seat with the sucker in his mouth and relaxed. Shortly he started to drift off. He laid his head on his backpack and was soon snoring. Jim reached back and pulled the sucker out of his mouth. He threw it into the litter basket in the front seat.

"What's he so tired about?" asked Simon.

Jim shrugged. "I don't know. He's pretty much recovered from going out with Misty."

"Did he ever tell you why they broke up?"

"Nope. He's as closed-mouthed as a clam about it. Really weird, I'll tell you. Usually, it's all I can do to get him to shut up about it when he breaks up with the latest girlfriend. Something must have happened that last night to cause it, but he won't talk about it."

"Hmm. Well, not much you can do if he doesn't want to talk about it."

"Yeah. Hey, Simon there's a sign for a diner. Let's stop there and get breakfast."

Simon pulled off the highway and they followed the signs to the diner.

They woke up Sandburg and went into the diner. Blair was still a little groggy, but hungry. They all ordered and ate as quickly as possible so they could get back on the road. As soon as they were in the car Sandburg pulled out another sucker and popped it into his mouth. Once again, he fell asleep and was quiet for the rest of the trip, never asking to switch with Jim. He woke up when they were about 10 miles from the lake.

"Wow, I must have really needed that. I feel great," he said stretching his arms over his head.

"Good," said Jim. "Because, you'll need all that energy to set up camp as soon as we're there."

They stopped at the ranger's station and checked in before continuing deeper into the woods. Finally a spot was found to everybody's liking and they unpacked and set up camp. The lake was less than half a mile away down a hill. Jim and Blair set up the new tent that Jim's father had given him and Simon set up his nearby.


After a day of fishing, hiking, and sunning, all three men were pleasantly exhausted by dinnertime. They heated up some of the food that they had brought with them over the campfire. Then Simon reached over into the cooler that he had brought along, pulled out a couple of beers and threw them to the other two men.

"Thought these might come in handy," he said with a grin.

"Thanks, Simon," said Jim, opening his and taking a long swallow.

"Hey, don't you guys want dessert first?" asked Blair.

"What do we have?" asked Simon.

"Lollipops!" said Blair pulling the bag from his old backpack.

"No thanks, Sandburg. I'm not much for candy," said Simon.

"Me either, Chief," said Jim.

"Ok, that just means more for me then," replied Blair, ripping the plastic off the sucker and popping it into his mouth.

A couple of suckers and two or three beers later and they were all laughing and talking about the latest gossip at the station which concerned Neil, the mail-boy, and his crush on Rhonda.

"She just doesn't have the heart to discourage him," said Simon. "A while back he asked me if I knew when her birthday was because he wanted to send one of those 'singing telegrams' where they come in and sing 'happy birthday' to the poor sucker, I mean the lucky person, whose birthday it is. Only thing is -- he didn't do his research very well and ended up with a strip-o-gram right there in the bullpen. Rhonda was embarrassed but forgave him. You missed it, Sandburg." Simon laughed and Jim chuckled. Blair just stared into the fire.

"He must really like her," he said finally after Jim's and Simon's laughter had died down. Both older men's faces immediately sobered as they remembered the reason for this 'retreat'.

"He'd probably be better to just give up women altogether. She's just going to end up hurting him. They all do," said Blair morosely.

"Are you thinking about Misty, Chief?" Jim ventured.

"You know, I really thought that she might be the 'one.' I don't think I ever felt that way about anybody before."

"You gotta look at this as an opportunity, Sandburg," said Simon. "I hate to use an overworked cliche here, but there are plenty of fish in the sea. You just haven't found the right one, yet."

Blair took out another sucker and put it in his mouth. After a reflective pause, the conversation turned to other more mundane things, but Blair didn't take part.

Suddenly, in the middle of a debate about who caught the biggest fish that day, Sandburg spoke up. He was lying on his back with his head propped up on the log next to the campfire with the sucker still in his mouth staring into the flames.

"I've decided," he said loudly.

Both Jim and Simon stopped talking, surprised at his comment, and looked at him.

"Decided what?" asked Jim, in puzzlement.

"I'm gonna give up women," he said, sitting up and almost tipping over as he overbalanced.

"Whaddaya mean you're gonna give up women?" Jim and Simon stared at Blair incredulously.

Blair stood up and stretched his arms out to his sides.

"'M gonna hang up my sword."

"Sandburg..." Jim said.

" Dr. Johnson isn't taking any new patients..."

"Sandburg..." Jim said a little louder.

"The roller coaster in 'man land' is not taking any more passengers..."

"Sandburg!" Jim yelled.

"The fun house is closed for business..."

At this point, Blair started to tilt to the side as he waved his arms a little too hard while trying to emphasize his words. Jim stood and caught him around his upper arms right before he fell to his knees. Blair looked up into his eyes with a decidedly loopy expression on his face.

"Aw, thanks Jim. You're a good frien'. Need good frien's when the train doesn't stop in Hooterville anymore. Wait a min'. Thass not right. There's no Hooterville in Washington, is there? Been to Hooters. Din't like it. N'omi says aura's too sexchist... sessist..."

"Sexist?" asked Jim.

"What you said. What were we talking about? Oh, I know -- never been to Disney World or Disneyland before... don' like roller coasters... but gotta make sure to use coasters, huh Jim? Can't get rings on the coffee table -- gotta fussy roommate -- aren't ya, Jim?" He looked fondly at Jim and tried to pat his face but completely missed and fell forward into Jim's arms. He looked over Jim's shoulder and whispered loudly "Jim, Jim! Somethin's wrong with Sim'n -- look!"

Jim sat Blair down on the ground and looked over at Simon, who had rolled off his log and was lying on the ground, holding his middle as he laughed hysterically.

"You're a lot of help," muttered Jim with his hands on his hips.

He turned back to Sandburg, who was no longer where he had left him.

"Sandburg!" he yelled

"What!"

"What the hell are you doing?"

Blair was on his hands and knees over by the tree line peering closely at the ground.

"Sim'n's havin' a fit. Gotta find somethin' so he doesn't swallow his tongue. Hard to see in the dark -- why'ncha come give me a hand here?"

"Simon's not having a fit! Quit that and come back over here."

"Jim! Don' you care 'bout Sim'n?"

"Of course I care about Simon!"

Jim stalked over to Blair and pulled him to his feet, half dragging him back to the fire, while Blair tried to struggle free, disjointedly trying to tell Jim that he had to help Simon.

"For crying out loud, Chief, there's nothing wrong with Simon. Look!" He pushed Blair in front of Simon who was now sitting up wiping the tears of laughter off his face. Blair leaned down and peered closely at Simon.

"Aw, Jim, you made him cry. What kinna frien' does that to another? It's ok Sim'n, Jim din't mean it." With that, Blair threw himself at Simon with open arms.

Simon, who wasn't expecting to have 150 lbs. of Sandburg launched at him, went right over backwards. Simon lay stunned on his back while Blair just lay limply on top of him with his arms around him and his head on Simon's chest.

"Sandburg!"

"What! Why do you guys keep yellin' my name at me?" complained Blair without moving.

"Get off of me!"

"Can't do that."

"Why the hell not?!"

"Can't move."

"Why not?"

"Don' know." Blair sighed and stayed where he was. "Can't feel my lips."

"What does that have to do with anyth... oh never mind. Jim!"

Jim's face, which was also tear-streaked now, appeared over him.

"Do you need some help, Simon?" he asked innocently, with a twitch of his lips.

Simon glared at him. "Do you mind?" he asked, waving a hand at his 'Sandburg blanket'.

Grinning, Jim took pity on him and lifted Blair off of him. He stood Blair on his feet and then tucked him under his arm like a football.

"I'm going to put him to bed. He's obviously had too much to drink," he said as Simon sat up and wiped the tears off his face.

Jim walked off with his 'package' and managed to get Sandburg in the tent.

"Take off your clothes Chief, and then you can get in your sleeping bag."

Blair was lying flat on his back on top of his sleeping bag.

"Don' think I can do that, man," he said groggily.

Jim sighed. "It won't kill you to sleep in your clothes for one night, I guess," he said.

He reached over and removed Sandburg's shoes and socks and then rolled him into his sleeping bag.

"Thanks, Jim... good frien'..." Blair turned over and started snoring almost immediately.

Jim shook his head and went back to the campfire.

"He all right?" asked Simon.

"Yeah, he's fine. Just a little too much to drink."

"Funny, but I don't think he had more than 3 beers. I just counted the cans."

"That is a little odd," said Jim with frown on his face. "At home he never usually has more than two beers and I've never seen him get loopy from that." Then he shrugged. "Well, he IS a 'little guy'. I guess three is just one beer too many for Sandburg."

There was a pause as Jim settled himself in front of the campfire again.

Simon looked at Jim. Jim looked back.

"Man land?" said Simon

Jim grinned. "Sounds like he's got a whole theme park down there between his legs."

They both burst into laughter.

"Dr. Johnson?!"

"Hooterville?!"

They both guffawed and chortled until tears slid down their faces again. A little giddy from the beer they had earlier and Blair's interesting antics, they spent the next hour laughing and wondering just what had gone on between Sandburg and Misty to cause such a reaction.

The next morning Jim woke up early and decided to start breakfast. As he was putting some clothes on, Blair stirred and woke up.

He stretched and yawned. "Oh man, I really slept good! This fresh air really must be good for me."

Jim stopped and stared at Blair.

"What?" said Blair, noticing the stare.

"You were pretty out of it last night," said Jim.

"Really?" Blair stopped and thought. "I must have had too much beer. I don't even remember going to bed, come to think of it."

"Yeah? I put you to bed. Look -- you're still wearing your clothes."

"Oh yeah, you're right." Blair just shrugged.

"You remember what else you did?"

"I did something?" Uh oh, thought Blair.

"Well, you were talking about giving up women."

"What!" yelled Blair.

"Quiet! Simon's still sleeping."

Blair lowered his voice. "I never said that," he sputtered indignantly.

"You did," said Jim, matter-of-factly.

"Well, that's just NUTS! I would never do that. It's just not me!"

"Simon and I did think it was sort of an extreme reaction to breaking up with Misty."

"I must have had more beer than I thought..."

"Will you guys shut up over there? I'm trying to sleep!" came a grumpy voice from Simon's tent.

"Come on and help me make some breakfast," Jim whispered. "He'll wake up in a better mood as soon as he smells the coffee."

They prepared breakfast together and, just as Jim predicted, Simon came out when they got the coffee going. They ate and after cleaning up, Simon decided to fish a little. Jim and Blair unloaded the canoe that they had brought along with them and hauled it down to the lake. As they pushed off from shore, Simon waved to them. Blair sat enjoying the sun as Jim paddled them out a little further. After a few minutes, he pulled a sucker out of his back pocket and popped it into his mouth. Jim was extending his sight to look for wildlife and then pointing it out to Blair. They saw deer, ducks, a snake, an eagle, and a hawk. Blair sat quite passively during all of this, sucking on his lollipop, when Jim pointed to the water by the side of the canoe.

"Look, Chief, I can see all sorts of fish under the water."

"Really, Jim? That's so cool." Blair moved over to the side to look where Jim was pointing.

Jim pointed out the different fish and other underwater creatures.

"Look at that fish, must be 12 inches long. Simon should have come with us. And look -- there are some tadpoles over there... and there's a tur...

He was cut off as the head of a turtle popped up right under Blair's face, which was hanging over the edge of the canoe about six inches above the water.

Blair's head jerked back in alarm. "Ahhh!" he yelled jumping back from the side of the boat and standing up.

"Sandburg -- sit down!" Jim yelled as the canoe tipped wildly.

But Blair wasn't listening and he took a step backward, lost his balance and tipped right over the side of the canoe, head first into the water, with a yell and a loud splash.

"For crying out loud!" Jim said. He quickly reached over the side and stuck his arm down into the water, grabbed Blair by the back of his shirt and pulled him up, sputtering and coughing.

"What the hell are you doing?" Jim said in exasperation.

"Lost my balance..." Blair sputtered.

Jim helped him climb back over the side of the canoe where he sat down and began shaking his head.

"What's wrong?" asked Jim.

"I got water in my ears, man. I can't get it out," said Blair hitting the side of his head with his hand.

"It'll come out eventually. Just leave it alone. I don't know what you think you were doing. You almost tipped the whole canoe over. I thought you knew better than to stand up in a canoe."

"What?" yelled Blair, still shaking his head.

"Never mind," said Jim. He threw Blair a towel to dry off with and started to paddle out a little more into the middle of the lake.

"Half a mind to do what?" asked Blair.

Jim looked at Blair. "I said NEVER MIND," he yelled.

Blair looked wide-eyed at him. "Geez, man. You don't have to yell." He pounded the side of his head a little more.

Jim rolled his eyes and continued paddling slowly around the lake. Blair dug into his pocket and pulled out another sucker. Somehow he hadn't lost them when he fell in the water. He relaxed and looked half-asleep as he enjoyed the sun and the ride; and Jim enjoyed the peacefulness of the wilderness.

Finally, Jim suggested that they go swimming. He had spotted a sandy spot on shore with shallow water that looked like a perfect beach.

"Let's go get Simon and take him with us. I'm sure he's had enough fishing by now."

"Well, if you're itching we should go back and get the calamine lotion," said Blair.

Jim sighed. "I'm. going. to. get. Simon," he said loudly and deliberately, trying not yell.

"I think we should go get Simon first; you can go climbing later," said Blair with a frown. "Why someone would want to climb those bluffs for fun, I'll never understand," he muttered as he turned away and looked out over the lake sucking on his lollipop.

Jim looked at Blair. He didn't know whether to laugh or bang his head against the side of the canoe. He opted for door number three and started to paddle back towards shore to pick up Simon.

Concluded in Part Two...