Blair Sandburg slid his arm around Diandra Pallas' waist as they entered the municipal arena. Usually the venue was home to Cascade's pro basketball team, the Jags, but this weekend it was filled with mobile homes, landscape contractors and local businesses for the annual Home and Garden show. Hundreds of booths filled the arena floor, all of them handing out samples, or brochures, or free balloons with the company slogan.
Many local charities were holding raffles, and a local dealership was giving away a brand new SUV to support the United Way. Cascade PD was holding their own fundraiser in their booth for the Police Athletic League. Jim had volunteered Blair to help out, but had avoided telling him exactly what was involved. Gazing at the banner draped across the top of the stand, the anthropologist could see why.
"Kiss a Cop and Help a Kid" was painted in big bold letters. He groaned. A warm voice in his ear whispered, "I happen to think you are verrrrry kissable& " Dee nipped lightly at his earlobe.
Flushing, Blair growled under his breath, "Jim is dead. He is so dead& "
"Sandy! Dee! Glad to see you made it," Megan Connor greeted them. "I've got the schedule right here. You're not up till after lunch, Sandy. Rafe has the first shift in the booth, along with Lois Wilson from traffic. You and I start at 1:00." A grin split her face as she spotted Ellison coming up behind the couple. "Hi, Jim. You're up from 4 to 6."
Blair turned around and punched his partner lightly in the arm. "What did you do to me? I can't kiss a bunch of strange women! I'm taken, remember?" His gaze shifted to Dee, the amused expression on the Immortal's face filling him with dread.
"I don't mind, Lobo. After all, it's for a good cause." She shifted her attention to Megan. "How much, Pajara?"
"Dollar a kiss," her companion replied.
Digging in her pocket, Dee came up with a ten, and tossed it into the jar on top of the booth. "I know it's a little early for your shift, but think you can pucker up for PAL?"
Jim shook his head. "That was very bad, Dee."
She shrugged, her blue eyes still on her lover. "You know I'm a bad girl."
Blair took a step towards her, figuring he might as well get to enjoy this kiss. If he knew what was good for him, he wouldn't enjoy any of the others. Pulling Dee into an embrace, he whispered, "And I'm your bad boy& " before pressing his mouth to hers. Losing himself in the warmth, the love, they shared, he didn't break the kiss until the sound of applause and wolf whistles penetrated his brain. Releasing her, he took a look around, finding a small crowd of show goers smiling at them. A long line was now forming at the booth, and money was changing hands.
"Great demonstration, Chief," Jim laughed, "just what we needed to draw customers. Look, I've got security detail until my turn in the booth. I'll check back with you later." Giving them a wave, the tall detective disappeared into the crowd.
Dee ruffled Blair's hair affectionately. "What do you say we go get something to eat, and you can drop me off at Rainier's display?" Nodding his agreement, they headed for the food court.
One o'clock found Blair taking his place in the booth alongside Megan. A group of giggling high school girls came through first, and Blair found himself suddenly very busy. There was a small lull after they strolled off, still laughing and peeking back at the longhaired grad student.
Megan, who'd had nothing to do but watch Blair squirm, handed him a tissue. "What? Is my nose running?" he asked.
"No, but you have about five shades of lipstick on you."
"Oh, thanks." He wiped his mouth, then glanced across the large display floor to Rainier's booth. Dee looked up from explaining a brochure to a young woman, as if she felt his attention. Giving him a smile, she turned back to her customer.
Connor stifled a laugh, and Blair frowned at her. "Now what's so funny?"
"You, mate, and her. I never thought I'd see the day you couldn't even look at a beautiful woman, let alone not enjoy kissing her."
"Megan! Those were high school girls, jail bait! Besides, I& " His gaze traveled back to Dee. "As far as I'm concerned, there is no one else& "
The Aussie patted his shoulder. "Well, I'm happy for you." A young man walked up to the stand and shyly held out a dollar bill. Taking it from him, Megan dispensed a kiss, then watched him go on his way.
An hour later, Blair was about ready to pack it in. Who knew kissing could take so much out of a guy? He ran a tissue over his lips, giving the colors smeared on it a curious look. He'd never really thought about lipstick before. It did seem to come in a lot of different shades. Tossing the tissue in the trash, he planted his elbow on top of the table and rested his head on his hand, running his fingertips lightly over his mouth. It might have been his imagination, but his lips felt a little swollen. He was just about to ask Megan for her opinion when a couple of his students from Rainier approached.
"Hi, Amy, Michelle," he said.
"Oh hi, Mr. Sandburg. What are you doing over here in the& " Amy looked up at the sign. "Kiss a cop?" She began rummaging through her purse. "Michelle, you got a dollar?"
Fifteen minutes, several dollars and kisses later, the co-eds wandered off. Blair took a step back from the counter, groping blindly for a chair. He really didn't feel good now. His mouth tingled and burned, and he was finding it hard to catch his breath.
"Sandy? You all right?" Megan peered at him intently.
Blair opened his mouth to speak, but nothing except a wheeze came out. He clutched at the detective's arms, struggling to draw air into his lungs. Spots danced in front of his eyes, and he felt himself falling, crashing into the table as he went down, the jar of receipts tipping, dollar bills raining over him.
"Sandy! Someone get a doctor! " The words were barely out of her mouth before two Sentinels were leaping over the front of the booth.
"What happened?" Jim barked, bending over the guide.
"He looked kind of pale, like he couldn't breathe, then he just passed out& ." Megan moved out of the way, as Dee's hand went to Blair's throat.
"His air passage is swollen, and his lips are too." She bent a little closer, sniffing. "Do you smell that?" she asked Jim. "Smells like& lotion& hand lotion& "
"Lanolin! We need a medic over here!" Jim yelled. He placed a hand under the unconscious man's neck, tilting his head back, trying to open his airway as far as possible. Two paramedics from the booth on the opposite side of the aisle rushed to help out. "Hang on, Chief, help is here."
The soft weight of something warm against his forehead and a light pressure on his hand woke Blair. He opened his eyes slowly, blinking a couple times to clear the blurriness. Jim's face came into focus, his cool blue eyes gazing at him worriedly. The grip on his hand tightened, and Blair glanced down to see the Sentinel's fingers wrapped around his own.
A light touch on the top of his head caused him to turn his attention to the side. Dee stood next to him, her hand in his hair. Bending slightly, she kissed his forehead. "How are you feeling, Lobo?" she asked.
"Mmmm," he managed, looking around the room curiously. He recognized it as an ER treatment area from his previous trips to the hospital. That was a good sign; he wasn't in a regular room. Maybe they'd let him go home. "What happened to me?"
"You had an allergic reaction, Chief."
The guide frowned, his brow creasing in puzzlement. "Allergic reaction? There's only one thing I'm allergic to and that's wool& "
"And it's byproducts, like lanolin," Dee said. "Turns out one of the companies at the show was a cosmetic manufacturer, and they were giving out samples of moisturizing lipstick, containing& "
"Oh, no, don't tell me& "
"You guessed it, Chief, lanolin. Every time you planted a kiss on a woman wearing some of the sample lipstick, a little got absorbed into your system. Finally it was enough to cause you to go into anaphylactic shock. Good thing the EMT booth was right there. They were able to treat you before it got too serious." Jim gave his partner a smile.
Blair shook his head, his free hand reaching for Dee's. "Man, I am never going to live this down. Felled by a kiss& "
Dee raised an eyebrow at him. "And that's a bad thing?"
He grinned up at her. "Not when it's your kiss. And I think yours are definitely going to be the ones I'm sticking to from now on, angel."
Jim gave him a gentle tap on the head. "Bout time you realized that. Takes a load off my mind to know you've finally decided to settle down."
"Hey! What business is it of yours?" Blair protested.
"I'm your 'Blessed Protector', remember? It's a lot easier to look out for you when I know where you'll be."
The guide rolled his eyes. "Can I go home?"
"Yes, the doctor said you should be fine, just to take it easy for awhile." Both Sentinels offered him a hand up from the gurney.
Blair stood up a little unsteadily, one hand going around Dee's waist, and the other gripping Jim's shoulder. "Thanks, guys. When was the last time I told you how lucky I am to have the two of you in my life?"
"Oh, I don't know," Jim replied as the trio headed for the door, "but I think Dee and I are the lucky ones. Don't you agree?" His eyes met the Immortal's over the top of Blair's head.
"Completely, Jim." She gave Blair a squeeze. "My life would very empty without you in it."
"So would mine, " Jim echoed. "So no matter how much the guys beg, don't let them talk you into kissing any strange women again. Though your shift in the booth did bring in the most donations& "
"It did! Wow& " This time it was Dee's turn to rap him on the head. "Okay, okay, I promise!"
Laughing, the three friends headed home.
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