starwatcher_fic ([personal profile] starwatcher_fic) wrote2009-09-28 08:51 pm

#09 - He Who Laughs Last...


Title: He Who Laughs Last...
Summary: Blair hatches a get-even scheme.
Style: Gen
Size: 2,115 words, about 4 pages in MS Word
Warnings: None
Notes: Loft, dialogue, no action.
Feedback: Not necessary, but every comment treasured.
Email: If you prefer not to post a note that everybody can see, you can reach me at starwatcher -at-

He Who Laughs Last...

by StarWatcher

"Oh, HELL!"

Jim glanced up from the evening newspaper; he saw nothing unusual in the form hunched in front of the laptop. "What's the problem, Chief?"

"Hey, Jim, did you hear about the forgetful man and the Internet?"

"No, Sandburg, what about the forgetful man and the Internet?"

"Well, he was getting married, see, but he was very much like the original absent-minded professor. During the afternoon, his mother called to remind him that he had to be at the church the next day. His brother called that evening with the same message. But he knew how forgetful he was, so he sent himself an e-mail reminder. He figured, when he saw it in the morning, he'd be sure to remember. But his e-mail didn't show up the next morning. His bride-to-be married his best man on the spur of the moment. When the e-mail came through two days later, he dressed very carefully, drove to the church, and was astounded to find no one there. Now he's suing his ISP for mental anguish and alienation of affection."

Jim's brow crinkled; this was a little left-field, even for Blair. "Sandburg? You want to explain where this is coming from?"

"Yeah, man!" He ran his fingers angrily through his hair, tugging in frustration. "I just got an e-mail informing me that I have a very important, can't-miss-it-or-my-ass-is-in-a-sling junior faculty meeting -- yesterday! Dammit!"

"Come on, Chief, it can't be that bad; can't you just get the notes from somebody?"

"That's not the point, Jim. People who aren't present always get 'volunteered' for the scut jobs that nobody wants. Like I don't have enough to do as it is," he grumbled. "I just know they've tagged me to evaluate the optimum paper color for handouts, or something equally trivial. I tell you, man, I could easily develop a love/hate relationship with computers, no matter how useful they are; they suck us in by making things so much easier, then lose important pieces of information. At least a paper message would've been in my mailbox and I would've seen it when I went to the workroom to copy my quiz-sheets. E-mail that takes the long way around through cyberspace just sucks." He glowered at the monitor.

"I think you'll survive it, Sandburg," Jim retorted, folding the paper to the sports section. "If I know you, you'll just take a page out of Tom Sawyer's book and have everyone else doing the work for you." He returned to his reading, completely missing the thunderstruck look on his friend's face, and the calculating gleam in his eye.

"Tom Sawyer," he murmured. "Thanks, Jim. I'll be sure to keep that in mind..."

The next evening was Jim's turn to cook. Instead of offering his usual helping hand, Blair sat in front of his laptop; Jim heard the clicking as his friend apparently visited different webpages, interspersed with occasional chortling that sounded almost... evil, followed by the scratching of pen on paper. He wondered what Sandburg was up to; anyone who was on the receiving end of that imitation 'Beavis and Butthead' snicker would probably be most unhappy.

"Okay, close it up, Chief," he ordered, carrying the meatloaf to the table and setting it next to the salad. "Time to eat; you can finish your plans to take over the world later."

Blair set the laptop to 'sleep' mode and took his seat across from Jim, with a half-smile playing on his lips and a twinkle in his eye. "The world is a bit much, but if I work at it, I might be able to take over Rainier one day." He rubbed his hands together and affected a Boris Karloff accent. "They'll rue the day they volunteered me to find another source for the soft-drinks that are available in the machine in the teachers' lounge!" He smiled in sublime self-satisfaction as he put a large slice of meatloaf on his plate.

"You kids today," Jim mock-grumbled. "Can't you play nice? So when it's all over, will I have to haul your ass to jail, or just defend you from an angry mob?"

"Hey, man, nothing illegal!" Blair protested. "And some of them might even like the results. But -- well, maybe a small mob," he acknowledged. "I'll have to put it all together when I don't have to be on campus for about twenty-four hours afterward. Maybe Thursday; my class ends at ten, and I don't have office hours that day -- I can skip out until one o'clock on Friday." He nodded decisively to himself. "Yeah, that'll work."

"Sandburg, what will work?" Jim demanded, unable to contain his curiosity any longer.

Blair snickered as he chewed a mouthful of meatloaf. After swallowing, he took pity on Jim's outraged frustration. "It's like I said, Jim; when I wasn't at the meeting, I got 'volunteered' for the job nobody wanted. But thanks to your suggestion and Mark Twain's guidance, I've devised a fiendish plot to ensure that no one will ever again try to pull something like that on me." He nodded decisively as he speared another forkful of meatloaf.

"Fiendish plot?" Jim repeated. "I think you've been reading too many B-grade spy thrillers, Chief. So what've you got up your sleeve?"

"Just giving people what they want, Jim; you know what a helpful guy I try to be." But he quickly gave up his façade of wide-eyed innocence, letting the gleeful triumph show through. "It seems that some of our faculty want something a little less boring in the soft drinks machine, so I've been doing a bit of research. Not only will the new drinks not be boring, they'll be downright healthy. Now, really, how can they complain about that?"

Jim thought to himself that, as easy-going as Sandburg was, it was wise to remember that you really didn't want him pissed off at you; once he applied that amazing intellect toward getting even, you were doomed. "I dunno, Chief; if you're planning to load the machine with prune juice and V-Eight, I'll understand why you might have a mob after you."

"Oh, much better than that!" Blair assured him sunnily. "You know how I mentioned a love/hate relationship with computers? Forget about it, man; it's love all the way. Do you realize you can find anything you want on the Internet? Products from around the world are just a few key-strokes away, and it really is amazing just how diverse our planet it."

"So what diverse products are you considering, Sandburg?" Jim fortified himself with a large gulp of beer, wondering what could be worse than prune juice. Did algae shakes come in a can?

"Great stuff, man; look here." Blair grabbed the page full of notes from beside the laptop. "I think I'll start with 'Nature's Delight'; the blurb says it's a health drink made with apple juice, grape juice, and apple cider vinegar. That should get the taste buds tingling." He glanced down at his notes to refresh his memory. "And Himalayan Goji Juice sounds good, along with Asia Passion Juice. They're both full of vitamins and minerals, and supposed to be very healthy, as well as flavorful."

Jim didn't know whether to laugh or groan; trust Sandburg to stick to the letter of the assignment while managing to twist it out of recognizable shape. He shook his head slowly in disbelief, but Blair ignored the body language and carried on.

"I can't decide between the Korean Health Drink, made with garlic, onion, and cactus, or the XanGo Juice, made with the purée of the mangosteen fruit. They both sound interesting, but the machine can only hold six choices. And I gotta put in the Ginseng Green Tea and the Organic Green Tea Shake; the shake is supposed to be an anti-cancer and anti-oxidizer, and the ginseng is an energizer. That'll give everyone a nice range of choices, don't you think?" His gaze was innocence personified.

"Sandburg..." Jim felt peculiarly helpless in the face of this juggernaut. "If they want something different, why not just stock the machine with some of the weirder flavors of Snapple?"

Blair shook his head firmly. "No way, man! Why, Professor Martenson himself cornered me to put in a good word; he said, 'Mr. Sandburg, I know you'll do us proud.' As good as Snapple is, it's just too ordinary; you can buy it in any grocery store. I intend that my fellow faculty members get the best that money can buy." His voice dripped with firm self-righteousness.

Jim grasped at the offered straw, ignoring its frailty. "Speaking of money, how do you expect to pay for this, Chief? I'm not going to bail you out if you bankrupt yourself with this nonsense."

"What kind of fool do you think I am? No, don't answer that; I have a pretty good idea. But I do know how to do research. All of these drinks are available from West-Coast distributors; getting them here will be no problem at all. Of course, I expect they'll cost a bit more than canned soda; the machine will have to be set to a hundred-percent price increase, I think. But it's a small price to pay for health and good taste. I'm sure everyone will recognize that in a day or two."

"What they'll recognize is just what you intended, Sandburg. I'm sure they'll never tag you behind your back again. I just hope you can stand the fallout."

"Strangely enough, Jim, most of them can take a joke -- unlike some others I know, who shall remain nameless. But you're absolutely right; I think my message will come through loud and clear. Now eat up; your dinner's getting cold." He speared another forkful of meatloaf and chewed with evident satisfaction. "This is really good, by the way, but I bet it'd be even better with ostrich meat, or maybe a combination of ostrich and buffalo. When are you going to share your secret recipe so I can experiment with it?"

Jim grinned at the hopeful expression on his friend's face and gave a broad wink. "The key word is 'experiment', Chief. Have at it. I'll let you know when you're getting warm -- or maybe not."

"Oh, that's real grown up, man! I think you should consider -- I can experiment with your meatloaf recipe, or I can run some tests on your senses."

"Now who's being grown up?" Jim retorted amiably. "I'll see your senses testing and raise you extra cleaning duty; the bathroom's a mess, and it's mostly due to your long hair."

"Jim, to anyone but a sentinel, that bathroom would pass military inspection. How do you expect me to clean what I can't see?"

"I suppose I could stand over you and point out the areas you need to work on, but I can already hear the complaints. What d'ya say we call it a draw, clean up the kitchen, and watch 'Lethal Weapon Two' -- it starts in fifteen minutes."

"Popcorn with butter and cheddar?" Blair asked as he wrapped the leftover meatloaf for sandwiches the next day.

Jim was already scrubbing the dishes in the sink. "You're on, Sandburg. Nice to see you can be reasonable once in a while."

"Reasonable? I'll have you know that I'm the epitome of reason when I'm not dealing with a stubborn, hide-bound sentinel." Blair set the popcorn pan on the stove, poured a little olive oil into the bottom, and added a generous layer of popcorn kernels.

"Yeah, yeah, cry me a river. I may even care in five or ten years." Jim started shredding the cheddar to sprinkle through and over the popcorn -- none of that fake stuff in a jar for him -- while he kept an eye on the melting butter.

"Maybe instead of senses testing, I'll set up some sessions for practicing interpersonal skills." Blair was shaking the pan vigorously as the sound of popping corn rose to a crescendo. "You'd be surprised how far a little tact and diplomacy will get you, sometimes."

"I understand the concept, Sandburg, and can even use it when necessary. But when I'm shouting, 'Freeze! Cascade PD!', diplomacy just isn't necessary."

"Maybe not, but there're plenty of times you could use it, and don't. Maybe I could give you some pointers."

"Point your ass to the couch, Chief; the movie's starting." He carried the popcorn while Blair grabbed a couple of beers. They settled on opposite ends, with the popcorn bowl between them. Their bantering died as they watched the movie, each content simply to be spending time with his best friend. Chasing the latest perp and sabotaging the soda machine could wait for another day.

The End

Author's Notes

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magician113: (sidekick)

[personal profile] magician113 2011-04-14 01:12 am (UTC)(link)
Hey there cookie! Just wanted to let you know Bluewolf recced this story over at Crack Van, which is how I found it. Very funny and has your trademark touch for slice of life.

Here's the link to the rec:

Congrats and thanks again for the story.
starwatcher: Western windmill, clouds in background, trees around base. (Default)

[personal profile] starwatcher 2011-04-25 03:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Cool! Thanks for letting me know. (Sorry to be so late answering, but I was neck-deep in U&U.)

Very funny and has your trademark touch for slice of life.

Thank you. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

ozsaur: (Candy Apples (14 Valentines))

[personal profile] ozsaur 2011-04-27 02:23 pm (UTC)(link)
Blair really knows how to get revenge! Loved the banter, too!
starwatcher: Western windmill, clouds in background, trees around base. (Default)

[personal profile] starwatcher 2011-04-27 03:08 pm (UTC)(link)
Blair really knows how to get revenge!

<g> Isn't there a saying somewhere about 'never piss off an intelligent man'? (If not, there should be.)

Loved the banter, too!

I'm happy it works for you. The boys usually make it easy; they just kind of take over. ;)

Thanks for the feedback; it's a real day-brightener.