Anyway, she agreed to let me post it, so here it is.
Thanks to TAE for the use of her wonderful OFC, Mable and for the stupendous beta job. You’re great TAE!!!
Standard disclaimer. I don’t own any of the following. I wish I did. I don’t make any money from this, just the hugs and comments from the readers (hint hint)
"What do you mean you've changed your mind?" Rafe couldn't believe what he was hearing. "But I've already made all the arrangements." How could things go so wrong so fast? "Well that much is obvious!" He was practically shouting by the time he slammed the phone back into its cradle.
"Whoa there, man. What did that phone ever do to you?" Henry Brown turned to his partner with his best placating smile.
"It delivered bad news, that's what." Rafe hung his head and rubbed the back of his neck, trying to work out the sudden stiffness. "That was my landlord. You know how I had arranged to stay an extra week so my brother and his family could come help me move?"
Henry nodded and waited for Rafe to continue.
"Well he just called to say that he changed his mind. It seems he has some people wanting to move in this Sunday so I have to be out this Saturday." Rafe took a deep calming breath. "I wonder if he has any unpaid parking tickets."
"Hey, don't sweat it. I'll help ya move. How much stuff could you possibly have? " The hip detective gave his friend's shoulder a comforting squeeze.
Rafe just shook his head, "You'd be amazed, H." He gave his friend a hopeful smile. "I really appreciate it. I just don't know. It took four guys to get my dresser moved in. I don't know if just the two of us can move it out."
"Nah, how hard can it be? You and me buddy, we'll wrestle the beast." With that, Henry grabbed their coffee mugs and headed to the break room for some much needed caffeine.
Henry was just adding the cream and sugar that he knew his partner liked when Ellison and Sandburg walked in.
"Hey Hairboy, Jim." Henry did his best to be his normally cheerful self, but he should have known better then to try and get one past these two.
"So H, what's up with Rafe?" Ellison asked, mindlessly pouring his own coffee.
Henry tried to keep his poker face. "Huh? What makes you think something's wrong with Rafe?"
Sandburg shrugged his shoulders as he answered for his partner, "You just seem preoccupied."
"And you put extra sugar in Rafe's coffee." Ellison added while adding sugar to his own mug.
"Yeah, you always add extra sugar to his coffee when he's upset," Blair finished.
Henry looked back and forth between the two friends. Ellison and Sandburg were weird to begin with, but sometimes they were downright scary. After a few moments, he decided to tell them about the phone call and Rafe's moving problem. "...and I know that U-Haul is all booked this weekend because that's one of the reasons why he wanted to wait until next weekend in the first place and now it's too late for his brother to change his travel plans. So now he and I are stuck moving him all by ourselves."
Ellison drained his coffee mug, "Is that all? I'll tell you what, I'll bring my truck over and Sandburg and I will help."
Henry's face brightened. "That would be great, guys. Thanks"
"No problem, H. That's what friends are for." Blair's smile went from ear to ear and he was bouncing on his toes. The Sentinel could almost hear the gears churning in his Guide's head and see the light bulb go on.
Henry showed up at Rafe's apartment bright and early Saturday morning with two dozen donuts and a gallon of orange juice.
"So, Rafe, you ready to haul aaaa... lot of stuff?"
Rafe decided that his partner was far too cheerful for this early in the morning and debated shooting him. He quickly decided against it, as H was his only moving help.
Henry moved past his silent partner and headed towards the kitchen. Rafe just followed along, curious as to the reason for the doughnuts.
"Um, H? Not that I don't appreciate it or anything, but why the doughnuts?" he had been up much too late for his brain to quickly sort out his partner's oddities.
"They're for the moving crew. Man, you must have been up late if you're that out of it." Henry replied as he pulled out some paper cups and napkins.
Rafe actually smiled at this, "H, I don't think even you can eat that many doughnuts. And if you did you'd be no help in moving my furniture."
Henry just gave his friend his best innocent look, "What makes you think I'm going to eat them all?"
Rafe was prevented from answering by a knock on the door. He only had time to give H half a glare before he moved to see who was there.
The young detective opened the door to see Jim Ellison with his arm around his partner's neck giving him a noogie. "Hey man, watch the hair!!" Behind them, Jim's blue and white Ford truck could be seen in the parking lot.
Without waiting for Rafe to ask them in or removing his arm from the shorter man's neck, Ellison headed for the kitchen. "Hey I smell doughnuts. We’d better hurry, Chief, before H eats them all."
Rafe stared after them, confused not only by their presence but also their antics, as he closed the door, only to have it blocked open.
"I hope you aren't trying to keep your Captain from getting his fair share of doughnuts, Detective?"
Rafe turned around to see Captain Simon Banks and his son Daryl standing in the doorway. "No, Sir. Uh, I wasn't expecting you. Is there a problem, Sir?"
"The problem is that my detectives should be out solving crimes. I figured that the faster we got you moved, the faster you can get back to work," the Captain mock growled as he moved past his stunned subordinate and followed his son in search of doughnuts.
Even Joel and Mable showed up. Mable quickly took charge and ushered the men away from the now empty doughnut boxes. "All right lets get to work boys. We've got a lot of stuff to move and the sooner we get started the sooner we get done."
They quickly set to work. Mable finished the packing that Rafe hadn't gotten to yet. Daryl and Blair started by carrying the numerous boxes to various vehicles. Jim, Joel, Simon, and Henry began carrying the furniture to either Jim's truck or Joel's van. When Rhonda and Megan showed up, they cleaned the clothes out of Rafe's closet, and then stationed themselves at the new apartment to supervise moving things in.
With all of the helping hands and vehicles, the operation went smoothly. They were able to stagger the trips and managed to always have either a car or truck to load while, at the same time, part of the crew was across town unloading.
They moved the kitchen around lunchtime. Crewmembers would walk in, grab a few bites and a box and killed two birds with one stone. What food Rafe did have was packed into hungry bellies, eliminating the need for an ice chest or worry of it spoiling.
They were getting ready to tackle Rafe's huge dresser when, thankfully, several members of the Rainier football team showed up.
While the boys wrestled the dresser out of the old apartment and into the new one, the ladies began unpacking boxes and putting things away. With the help of Daryl, Mable arranged the kitchen so that things were in the most efficient place for preparing meals.
Jim and Joel even volunteered to stay behind and start cleaning the old apartment while the others took the last load over.
Rafe pinched himself to make sure he wasn't dreaming, or worse yet, hallucinating. It was only 5:30 in the evening, he was moved into his new apartment, a good chunk of the unpacking was already done, and here he was sitting on the Taggert's couch drinking a beer. He drank a swig of his beer, smiling at the thought of how Rhonda and Megan had even made up his bed so that all he had to do later tonight was crawl under the covers.
Mable had invited the entire crew over for dinner. No one had declined or argued for one of two reasons: one, Mable was a great cook, and the mere mention of her pot roast and ribs caused a chorus of growling stomachs; two, you just didn't argue with Mable, not twice anyway.
"Hey Hairboy, just how did you get those football players to help out?" Henry asked as he and Sandburg walked onto the room.
Blair started bouncing as he told his story. "Oh, that was easy. I just offered them extra credit if they’d come and participate in an experiment demonstrating the differences between teams and societies. I wanted to demonstrate…" and Blair was off and running in full professor mode.
The rest of Major Crimes settled back to listen to their anthropologist lecture on the current topic. Rafe scanned the room, noting the various different states of attention. Simon had at first rolled his eyes, as if to say "Here we go again", but the Captain was now paying close attention while trying to look like he wasn’t. Henry kept asking questions. He obviously enjoyed learning from his energetic friend. The most interesting reaction to the impromptu lecture was Ellison’s. As soon as the lecture started, Jim had just sat back, letting his head rest on the back of the couch, and closed his eyes. He had a look of calm on his face that one rarely saw in the bullpen.
"Actually Rafe, you did me a huge favor."
Rafe was pulled out of his observations by the sound of his name. "Huh?"
Blair just smiled and continued as if he had had Rafe’s full attention the entire time. "I just wanted to say thanks for moving. I’ve been trying to find a way to get those guys to understand this stuff since the beginning of the semester. You gave me the perfect hands on opportunity to demonstrate all the stuff I’m been saying in class." Blair took a breath to continue but remained silent when he noticed the look on Rafe’s face.
Rafe stood up and turned to address the gathered group. "Guys, I just want to say thanks. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help today. It was a great surprise when you all showed up this morning. I thought that H and I would have to move everything ourselves." Rafe contemplated his drink for a moment, debating whether or not to continue. When he spoke again it was in a soft, timid tone. "Honestly, I never even thought to ask any of you for help. H found out I was moving and insisted on helping," he gave his partner a smile. "But I was counting on my brother and his family to help. It never even crossed my mind that you all would help.
"I guess those football players weren’t the only ones who needed help understanding the difference between a team and a society," he said with a chuckle. "You guys really saved my bacon today."
"Actually, we ate your bacon at lunch," H stated plainly, which received an uproar of laughter in response.
Rafe waited for the laughter to die down, then continued, "I mean it. You guys are real lifesavers. If it weren’t for you, H and I would still be moving stuff."
There was an awkward silence.
The members of Major Crimes were not used to scenes of emotional expression among their rank. Nobody knew quite what to say, except Mable that is.
"Dinner’s ready, come and get it!!"
The result of her comment was a stampede towards the kitchen. The house rang with laughter as the Major Crimes Moving Crew filled their plates and commented on the day’s events. The atmosphere was more relaxed as Blair commented, "hey, if we’re all lifesavers, does that make us all Blessed Protectors?"
"Sandburg," Ellison mock growled.
"Where do you come up with these things, Hairboy?" was Henry’s chuckled reply.
"Well the ancient Chinese believe…" and Blair was once again in lecture mode.
Rafe smiled ear to ear. What he thought would be a day of hellatious, backbreaking work had turned into a day full of fun and friendship. He finished filling his plate and joined his friends, his Blessed Protectors, on the back patio.
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