Disclaimer: None of the characters from The Sentinel belong to me. I'm just taking the boys out for a little holiday spin.

Many, many thanks to my friend, Laura, for the title of this little snippet. I was stumped but she came through with a great suggestion.

Just a Little Rum in the Eggnog

By: Vanessa Sgroi

Detective Jim Ellison sighed wearily as he let himself into his apartment, brushing a light dusting of snow from his hair. It had been a hellish and busy two weeks for Major Crimes, despite the fact that Christmas—purportedly the most joyous time of the year—was five days away. He crossed the threshold and stopped dead, surprise stamped on his face.

"Sandburg, what the hell are you doing?"

"Oh, hey, Jim." Blair Sandburg looked away from the television where some Christmas movie was playing, "What's it look like I'm doing? I'm decorating a Christmas tree."

"But you're Jewish."

"Yeah. But you're not. That's the whole point. And I thought you could do with some Christmas cheer."

Jim snorted. "Believe me, the last thing I need is Christmas cheer. I've had enough so-called Christmas cheer the past two weeks to last me a lifetime and then some."

"Oh, c'mon, Detective Ellison. Lighten. Up. Here, have some eggnog." Blair dropped the multi-colored miniature lights he'd been pulling from the package and poured a generous serving into a glass from the pitcher waiting on the coffee table. He handed it to Jim.

Never one to turn down a decadent food choice—and besides he might dislike Christmas but he LOVED eggnog—Ellison accepted the glass. "Okay, fine. I'll take the eggnog. That's all the cheering up I need." The detective took a healthy swallow of the thick, creamy concoction, and immediately felt his eyes tear up as the alcohol burned a path to his stomach. He coughed, cleared his throat, and coughed again. "Holy hell, Chief, how much rum did you put in here?"

"Well, I didn't know how much to use exactly, so I just poured. Too much?"

Jim took another sip. Now prepared, it went down a lot smoother. "Nah. You know what—after these last two weeks—I'd say it's just about right."

"Good." Blair went back to his packages of miniature Christmas lights. "Hey, Jim? You got any ornaments we can use?"

"Nah. I mean, maybe, but they're probably packed away somewhere."

"Oh well. We'll just use the lights and the red bulbs I bought then. Oh and the tinsel."

After draining his glass of eggnog, Jim thought maybe having a tree wouldn't be so bad after all and decided to help Blair. He put his glass down on the coffee table. "Here," he wiggled his fingers, "give me those lights, Chief, I'll hang them at the top. You know, save you from having to use the stepstool." His teasing earned him an elbow in the ribs. He was stringing the lights along the top branches when he heard Sandberg burst into song—words to a popular Christmas carol tripping off his tongue—quite badly and off-key. Jim peered around the evergreen at his curly-haired, somewhat bleary-eyed, roommate. "Hey, Chief," he called, "just how many glasses of eggnog have you had already tonight?" A raised eyebrow accompanied the query.

"Just one…or…uhh…maybe two."

"Or three or four," the detective laughed, "I wonder if there's a law against 'decorating while drunk'."

"Hey, I'm not drunk! Just…very slightly tipsy…I think. So technically it's 'decorating while tipsy'."

"Great. This little ol' tree oughta look real good in the morning."

Blair hung a red bulb from the tip of a branch. "Yeah. Well, I don't think Santa Claus will care, Jim." Blair had a couple of gifts for Jim, and one for Simon, he intended to place under the tree on Christmas Eve.

Ellison's own thoughts turned to the presents he'd bought to give Blair regardless of whether there was a tree to stick them under. They were currently secreted in his locker at the station. Guess that means I'm Santa Claus. "Yeah, you're right, I really don't think the big guy'll care. Hey, pour me some more of that eggnog, will ya?"