The Bare Necessities
Summary: Jim's having a bad day. Rated PG for language and a naked Jim.
Author's Notes: For those of you who watched The Rig and haven't had enough of Jim without a towel, here's my attempt at the CascadeTimes List Easter 2000 Challenge. The following story contains: Easter Basket, Marshmallow Peeps, a Biddy, Stuffed Easter Bunny that Makes Noise, Suspect or Crook Dressed as Easter Bunny, Easter Egg Dye, Easter Egg Hunt, Chocolate Rabbit, 25 Small Kids Under Age 5, Blaircussion, Megan, Simon, Joel, Rafe, Brown, Jim Doing Something Embarrassing, a Dog Painted Pink.
Disclaimer: These guys aren't mine. They belong to Pet Fly.
Jim reached out to take a marshmallow peep from one of the packages sitting on the kitchen counter. Blair's hand hit his fingers with a resounding whack.
"OW! Sandburg, that hurt."
"Then keep your damn hands off the candy, Jim," Blair said with a glower as he tied a large colorful ribbon around the bottom of an Easter basket he was putting together. "This candy is for the kids from the Childrens Home, not the kids from Major Crime."
Jim's niece Stephanie, who was arranging a large chocolate rabbit in the center of another basket, looked up at Jim with wide eyes. "Are you poor, Uncle Jim? Cus Blair told me that we were giving this candy to children who didn't have any money to buy their own. Daddy gave me an Easter basket yesterday. If you don't have enough money to buy your own candy, you can have some of mine."
Jim just stood there speechless.
Blair began laughing. He turned to Jim with a smirk. "Now don't you feel ashamed of yourself?"
Jim just lowered his eyes and continued packing dyed Easter eggs into a carton, trying to forget that he'd just been put in his place by a seven-year-old. "Come on, let's finish up here and get going," he grumbled. "The others are probably waiting for us."
Fifteen minutes later they were on their way to Cascade Park in Jim's truck. Stephanie sat between Jim and Blair in the cab, a stuffed rabbit on her lap. Every time she squeezed the toy's stomach, it began singing 'Here Comes Peter Cottontail' in a child's voice. And she squeezed it constantly. Jim made it a point to ask Steven not to give his daughter any more toys that make music. He was sure he'd be hearing that song in his head for days, and even his ever-tolerant partner was beginning to roll his eyes.
It was a sunny and unusually warm day in Cascade, and a large area of the park had been roped off for the annual event. When the blue and white pickup pulled into the parking lot, it was met by Simon, Rafe and Brown, who helped unload and carry the baskets and eggs to some nearby picnic tables, where they were added to those brought by the other members of Major Crime.
"Hey, Simon," said Jim, setting some cartons of eggs on the table. "Where's the rest of the gang?"
"Megan and Joel took the kids over to the petting zoo," Simon replied. "When we've finished hiding the eggs, we're suppose to send someone over to let them know we're ready for them."
Stephanie, upon hearing that, began bouncing up and down. "Uncle Jim! Uncle Jim! I want to go the petting zoo, too! They've got lambs and baby pigs and baby chickens and goats and..."
"Okay. Okay, Stevie." Jim smiled at his excited niece. "I'll take you over there as soon as we finish unloading things."
"That's okay, Jim," said Brown. "I'll take her over with me. I think 25 pre-schoolers are probably a pretty big handful for just Joel and Megan. They may need a hand. I think you four can handle the egg-hiding duties." He took Jim's niece by the hand. "Come on, sweetheart. You can show me the baby animals."
Jim watched Brown walk away with Stephanie skipping along beside him. He turned to Blair, who was busy arranging Easter baskets on the table. "Thank God for Brown. I'm not sure I could take much more of that song."
"You and me both," Blair sighed. "I never thought I'd ever want to strangle a stuffed animal."
After the truck was unloaded, the four men began filling picnic baskets with eggs, so they could begin hiding them. Jim had just finished filling his and was beginning to walk away, when he suddenly froze. "Sandburg," he said in a worried tone, "I think there's something wrong with my senses."
Blair and Simon, who were still gathering their eggs, immediately stopped what they were doing and rushed over to Jim. Rafe had already left, so the three men could talk freely about whatever problem Jim was having.
"What is it, Jim?" Blair put a hand on Jim's arm and looked up at him in concern. "What going on?"
Jim squeezed his eyes shut for a moment then opened them again. "I think there's something wrong with my vision, Chief. I see Brown's dog, Sammy, tied to a tree. But he's not white like he's supposed to be. He's pink. Why is he pink, Sandburg? Every thing else looks normal."
Simon, who had been worried at first, suddenly burst out laughing. "Relax, Jim. Your vision's fine. Brown's dog is pink. His kids were dying some Easter eggs this morning and one of them knocked over a bowl of red dye and it ended up all over Sammy, so Brown's stuck with a pink dog for a while."
Blair, who had been too worried about Jim to look at the dog, turned around and spotted the Samoyed lying in the shade under a nearby tree. He grinned at the sight. "Simon's right, Jim. The dog is pink."
Jim gave a heavy sigh of relief, then began laughing himself. "Poor thing." He shook his head. "Well, I guess we'd better start hiding these eggs so Brown can get back here. Poor Sammy looks lonely without him."
It was agreed that Simon would hide his eggs close by the picnic tables, so that any holiday thieves could be held at bay, while Jim, Blair and Rafe would cover the areas further away. Rafe had headed east, so Blair decided to go north, and Jim west. As Jim began walking away, he heard Blair call his name. He turned around to see his partner standing there giving him a hard look. "Don't forget, Jim," Blair said, shaking a finger at him. "These are little kids, not sentinels, and not detectives. No hiding your eggs in trees or other places where they won't be able to find them."
Jim smiled. "Well, just don't get lost out there. Okay, Chief? You're supposed to be headed north. Remember that." He immediately spun around and began walking away, but didn't miss Blair's utterance of "smart ass" under his breath.
A short while later, Jim had finished hiding all his eggs and was on his way back to the picnic area. He happened to glance in Blair's direction and saw him standing next to a grove of trees talking to a guy in a white rabbit suit. Jim grinned and shook his head, thinking there must be another Easter party going on somewhere else in the park.
Rafe was sitting at one of the tables when Jim walked up. "Hey, Jim. Is Blair almost done? We're ready to get this party started."
"He got sidetracked. I might have to go prod him a little." Jim turned to check Blair's progress, but his partner was nowhere to be seen.
"That's funny," Jim said, "He was there just a minute ago talking to someone. Now I don't see him at all. You wait here for Simon. I'll go see if I can find him."
Jim walked over to where he'd last seen Blair, but all he found was the picnic basket that Blair had been carrying. It still contained a couple of eggs that his partner hadn't hidden yet.
Jim picked up the basket. "Sandburg?" he shouted. "Where the hell are you?"
He got no answer. But when he dialed up his hearing he could hear two heartbeats coming from within the grove of trees. He headed in that direction and found himself in a small clearing. Sprawled in the center of the clearing was an unconscious Blair.
"Sandburg!" Jim dropped the basket and ran to his partner. He knelt down beside his friend and patted his face gently. "Sandburg. Can you hear me? Wake up, buddy." He checked Blair for injuries and found a large lump that was forming on the back of his friend's head. After determining that Blair probably had a concussion, he reached inside his jacket for his cell phone, only to be interrupted by the sound of a gun being cocked.
"Just freeze right there, fella," said a voice behind him. "Now put your hands in the air, stand up and turn around." Jim did as he was told, and found himself staring down the barrel of a gun being held by a large white rabbit.
"Now step away from your buddy there."
Jim moved away from Blair, his hands still in the air. "Look, why don't you just take what you want and go, so I can get help for my friend here."
The rabbit chuckled evilly. "Oh, I plan on doing just that." He walked over to Blair's unconscious form and aimed his gun at the young man's head. He looked up at Jim.
"Now strip," the rabbit ordered.
A few minutes later, the man with the gun had disappeared and Blair was beginning to stir. Jim had been looking through Blair's pockets hoping that his partner had brought his cell phone with him, but when he heard his friend moan, he stopped what he was doing and waited for him to wake up. "That's it, Chief. Come on. Open your eyes." Blair's eyes were beginning to flicker, but just before they opened, his right hand made a fist and smashed into Jim's face.
The impact knocked Jim onto his back. He groaned as he sat back up, his hand covering his left eye. "Sandburg! Take it easy! It's only me."
Blair moaned again and sat up, rubbing the back of his head. His eyes finally focused on Jim. "Oh God, Jim. I'm sorry. I felt you going through my pockets and thought you were that guy in the rabbit suit. He stole my wallet, then hit me over the head." He grimaced, then looked at Jim in concern. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah," replied Jim, removing his hand from his eye and wincing slightly. "You've got a hell of a right hook, though, Chief. I was going through your pockets to see if you had your cell phone, so I could call Simon and the paramedics. You appear to have a minor concussion. How are you feeling?"
Blair lay back down and closed his eyes for a moment. "My head doesn't hurt too bad, but I think I must have been hit pretty hard." He opened his eyes again and looked at Jim, "because I seem to be hallucinating."
Jim immediately forgot his swelling eye as concern for his partner grew. "What is it, Chief?" He looked closely into Blair's eyes. "I was sure it was just a mild concussion. What's going on?"
Blair just stared at Jim for a moment. "This is going to sound crazy," he said, "but you look like you're not wearing any clothes."
Jim felt himself blush. "Uh... I'm not, Sandburg. The man in the rabbit suit stole them.
Blair didn't react at first, but when what happened began to sink in, his mouth began to twitch slightly, and he suddenly burst out laughing.
Jim glared at him. "That's not funny, Sandburg! You're injured... there's a mugger running around in my clothes with both of our wallets... neither one of us has a phone... and I'm not about to go yelling for help and have just anybody come along." Jim paused for a moment, his jaw clenching in frustration. "Damn it! At least the guy could have left me my boxers."
Once Blair realized that his laughter was making his head hurt worse, he immediately quieted. "He probably took them so you wouldn't go chasing after him," he said. "And it looks like it's working. But I, for one, don't care to just sit here waiting for Simon and Rafe to decide to come looking for us."
Blair sat up again and took a deep breath. "HEEELLLLmmmmmmmmmph!" Jim slapped his hand over Blair's mouth. "Cut it out, Sandburg! I don't want everyone within earshot running over here."
Blair pushed Jim's hand away. "Then I'll go to them." Blair pulled his feet under himself and began struggling to get up. Jim immediately grabbed his arm. "Sandburg, will you take it easy. You're in no condition to be walking around."
Blair shook off the arm. "I'm okay. Just give me a minute." But as soon as he stood up he began to wobble.
Jim reached out a grabbed him again. "Will you sit down," he said angrily. "We'll think of something."
Blair immediately flopped back down and began to moan as his head started spinning again.
"Are you okay, Chief?"
"Yeah," Blair replied. "But you're right. I think standing up isn't a good idea at the moment."
Jim sat quietly for a while, looking at the ground, trying to think of a way out of their dilemma. "Why did you have to pick today to be wearing a T-shirt instead your usual several layers of clothes?"
"Well blame me for the warm weather, why don't you? You can always wrap my T-shirt around you."
"Great. I'm either going to look like a skinny sumo wrestler or a grown man wearing a diaper." Suddenly Jim froze and cocked his head, apparently listening to something.
"Jim? Blair?" a voice cried out.
Jim looked at Blair with a terrified expression on his face. "Oh my God! It's Connor! She must have heard you yell." He began to look around frantically before finally diving behind a nearby bush just as Megan emerged from the trees.
Megan stopped and stood there for a moment taking in the scene in front of her. "What's going on, Sandy? I just came over from the petting zoo to find out what was taking you guys so long, and I find Simon and Rafe sitting there waiting for you two to get back." She looked at both of them in confusion. "Why are you sitting on the ground, Sandy? And why is Jim hiding in the shrubbery?"
Blair related to Megan what had happened, and although she felt truly sorry for Jim, she couldn't help smiling at his predicament.
Jim didn't share her amusement. "Connor, will you just get back to Simon and tell him what happened. Tell everyone to look for a guy wearing jeans, a light blue T-shirt, and a Jags cap." He glared at her when she began to chuckle. "And call the paramedics for Sandburg."
"Sure, Jim," Megan replied. "And what are you going to do in the meantime... just stay here?
"I don't have much choice, do I?"
"Well," said Megan, reaching down behind a bush next to her. "You could wear this." Her hand came up holding the rabbit suit. With a huge grin on her face, she tossed the suit at Blair and walked back into the trees.
"Hey, this is great, Jim." Blair held out the suit to his partner. "Now you can help the rest of the guys chase down our mugger."
"Sandburg, I'm not going to wear that."
"Jim," Blair frowned. "That guy hit me over the head and stole my wallet. And you're going to just sit there and do nothing because you don't want to be seen in a rabbit suit? What's more important to you, your dignity or getting the guy that assaulted your partner?"
Jim didn't respond.
Jim sighed heavily. "Oh, hell," and grabbed the suit from Blair.
Jim had a little trouble getting into the suit. The mugger was a few inches shorter than he was, and he ended up ripping open the bottoms of the feet so he could get his long legs inside.
Just as Jim got the suit on, Simon came crashing through the trees. "Megan just told me what happened. I've sent out your description of the suspect." Simon couldn't keep himself from staring at Jim, and was trying hard to suppress a grin at seeing his best detective dressed as a rabbit. He looked over at Blair.
"How are you feeling, Sandburg?"
"I'm hanging in there, Simon. Thanks. Actually, if you two would give me a hand, I think I can make it back to the picnic area."
Jim and Simon put their arms around Blair's waist and helped him to his feet. Although he was still a little dizzy, he made it back without incident. Jim could hear sirens in the distance and knew the paramedics would be arriving in a few minutes. The children were gathered together under a nearby tree. Joel and Brown had brought them back from the petting zoo, but would not let them start the egg hunt while there was a criminal loose in the park. The detectives had given them their baskets of candy to keep them occupied during the search, and Joel had remained behind to keep an eye on them. When they saw Jim, they all started getting excited and yelling for the Easter Bunny to come over.
Jim and Simon had just settled Blair onto one of the picnic table benches when Simon's cell phone rang.
Simon listened to the voice at the other end of the line for a moment, then a smile broke out on his face. "That's great. Good work, people." He ended the call and turned to Jim and Blair. "That was Rafe. He and Connor nabbed our guy at the other side of the park, just about to climb onto a city bus. Turns out he wasn't that hard to spot, since your clothes didn't fit him very well. He had the pants rolled up because they were too long, and your shirt was way too tight. The guy robbed a jewelry store down the street, but unfortunately for him, his getaway driver panicked when he spotted a patrol car and left him stranded. He stole Sandburg's wallet for transportation money and Jim's clothes so that he wouldn't be conspicuous," Simon chuckled. "The guy decided not to wear anything under the rabbit suit, because it was so hot."
"I can attest to that," said Jim. "I'm sweating like crazy in this thing. Call Rafe back, Simon. Tell him to hold the guy there until I can get my clothes back."
Simon shook his head. "Sorry, Jim, but a patrol car already took the perp away."
"Damn," Jim grumbled. "I guess I'll have to go back to the loft and change."
"Uh... Jim," said Blair. "You don't have your keys."
"Damn. You're right. Do you still have yours, Chief?"
Blair felt around in his front pocket. "Yeah, there still here. But how are you gonna get home?"
Jim turned to Simon. "Sir?" he pleaded.
Simon sighed. "Okay, Jim. But you'll have to wait until Megan, Rafe and Brown get back. There's no way I'm going to leave poor Joel here to babysit these kids all by himself... and someone should go to the hospital with Sandburg."
"Great. You can drop me off at the hospital after we've stopped at the loft."
While Jim was busy talking to Simon, Stephanie had walked up to Blair, who was finally being treated by the paramedics. "Blair, where's Uncle Jim? Is he chasing the bad guy?"
"No, honey. The bad guy's been caught." He smiled and pointed toward Jim. "That's your Uncle Jim over there, dressed as the Easter Bunny."
"Oh, wow!" cried Stephanie, jumping up and down. "Uncle Jim's the Easter Bunny!" She ran over to Jim and threw her arms around his legs. "Uncle Jim. I didn't know you were going to be the Easter Bunny. You and me can help teach the little kids some games. This is gonna be so much fun!"
Jim looked up at Simon who had a huge grin on his face then over at Blair, whose was lying on a stretcher giving him a thumbs up and a even bigger grin.
Simon patted Jim on the shoulder affectionately. "Don't worry, Jim. I'll look after Sandburg for you."
Stephanie tightened her grip on Jim. "Thanks, Uncle Jim. You're the best uncle in the whole world."
Jim sighed. "Oh, hell."