Calendar Boys by Sammi M.
"And whose fault is that, Ellison? You were the one who set him up on the damn date that started this whole mess," Henry Brown groused. "Our only crime is being your friend which about right now, I'm sorely tempted to deny."
"And the fact that you encouraged it and helped me to set it up has no part in your being included. I don't think so. All of you are in this just as much as I am."
Simon decided to nip this in the bud as soon as possible. Though he hadn't enjoyed getting up before 200 men and women and stripping down to *beyond* his skivvies, he had reaped the benefits in the number of dates he'd managed to set up. His love life had gone from dead - with no hope of resuscitation to pulse-jumping-better-buy-new-underwear-just-in-case in only a few short weeks. Of course, the hair growing back made everything slightly uncomfortable, but he could overlook that. "Okay, lay off Jim, People. Even though he is greatly responsible for our predicament, none of us have fared badly."
Joel snorted, "Speak for yourself, Simon. You may be basking in your new sexual opportunity, but Rhonda has almost killed me. Who'd have thought your sweet, accommodating Administrative Assistant by day would turn into a sex-crazed warrior-wife by night? The woman has been relentless since the benefit and I gotta tell ya I'm tired."
"Man, don't you know it's *always* the quiet ones," Henry chuckled. "We did try to warn ya when you married her."
"Okay, that's enough. As much as I adore Rhonda, I don't really want to hear about hers and Joel's sex life." He cleared his throat. "So, with the exception of an exhausted Taggert, everyone else has benefited from the er benefit. I mean, even Brown got a date out of it which should tell you miracles can happen in this day and age." He waited for all of the shocked congratulations and his detective's sheepish thank-yous to die down before he continued. "All in all, it wasn't that bad and we should be thanking Ellison rather than plotting his demise."
The tired Taggert decided now was as good a time as any. "So, why are we here?"
"Chief Warren wanted to meet with us probably to thank us for our part in the benefit. It raised almost two-and-a-half times the amount it did last year and a lot of that was because we were billed."
"For someone who almost went ballistic when you saw the advertising, you certainly are plummy about it now." Megan had feared the man's head was going to explode when he first saw the posters Chief Warren had commissioned. Since she had been in the line of fire at the time, she had been witness to Simon's calling question to the Chief's lineage as well as his size or lack thereof in reference to a certain piece of his anatomy.
"Then, my reaction was because I didn't want my son to have to deal with seeing something like that. Now, "
"Now, it's because he's finally getting laid."
"I'd run if I were you, Chief."
"Excuse me, Captain Banks, but am I interrupting anything?"
Everyone in the room turned - in sync, no less - to find Chief Warren and a laughing Schuyler in the doorway. With a glare of promise directed in one Sandburg's direction and another for control directed at the other, Simon moved toward his superior in welcome. "Hello, Chief. How was your vacation?"
"Excellent. Simply excellent." As the three of them moved further into the room and closed the door, he watched as the young lady he'd grown quite fond of took a seat next to her partner-in-crime. Once she was settled, he returned his attention to the taller man. "Good to see everyone's here and looking well-rested." He frowned in Taggert's direction. "Well, almost everyone. We did try to warn you, Joel."
The whole room cracked up except for poor Schuy who looked totally confused. "I don't get it."
The Chief smiled at the young lady. "I'll explain it to you later at dinner."
Jim didn't like any of this. "That won't be necessary; *we'll* explain it to her."
"Whatever you say, Detective," Warren beamed. *Oh my, aren't we protective. Don't worry, Ellison, I have absolutely no desire to make a move on the girl. I've seen Naomi in full-Mama mode and I do value my life.* He nodded to the man beside him. "Have a seat, Simon. I want a clear floor when I explain what I've set up for you and your squad."
"Set up?" Simon blanched as he dropped into his chair like a rock off a building. "Please tell me this 'set up' is like a week-long stakeout and not like going on tour in our BVDs."
"Oh heavens no, Simon. You do have an active imagination, don't you? There is no way this city could spare its finest officers for what would amount to months." Warren waited patiently for everyone's sighs of relief to fade before he initiated Phase Two of his plans. "Now, I was wondering how many of you had heard of the Houston Fire Department's claim to fame?" He couldn't hide the chuckle when only Megan and Schuy's hands raised enthusiastically. "Oh, well. I suppose that will make our jobs a lot easier because you won't be trying to live up to their level."
"Level of what, Sir?"
The most evil smile crossed the older man's face causing the whole front row to lean back. "Gentlemen and ladies, after your stellar performance at the benefit, I have accepted on your behalf the honour of your own calendar."
Again, sighs of relief filled the room.
"Is that all?"
"Lot's of departments put those things out sort of like the baseball cards with officer's statistics and words of wisdom."
"This is going to be a piece of cake."
"And you guys were worried he was still after us."
Slowly, the comments died down as one by one, the officers noticed the females of the group on the floor where they had fallen from laughing. When Schuy finally noticed everyone watching them, she couldn't resist. "You guys have no clue, do you?"
Simon was suddenly afraid very afraid. "No clue of what?"
The Chief cleared his throat and when they all turned back to him, several would later swear they saw horns receding back into his head. "I think what Ms. Sandburg is alluding to is the *type* of calendar you guys are going to be doing."
"Excuse me, Sir." The Captain turned to skewer his top detective. "Ellison, I would advise you to prepare to run because I have a feeling that after Chief Warren explains what 'type' of calendar, you'll need a head start."
Now, Warren was laughing almost maniacally. "Don't worry, Detective. I'll make sure our insurance will cover any medical costs you might accrue."
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$"I don't like this. I remember the last time he said everything was going to be in good taste."
The whole group was seated in the back room reserved for them in their favourite restaurant. It had been a toss-up on whether to drown their sorrows with dinner or open a can of whup-ass on Jim after the Chief took great pleasure in distributing copies of HFD's latest effort. Dinner had won out, but just barely.
Their superior had offered them the free meal and transportation home if they wanted to get blind-stinking-drunk and had been forced to warn them he could bring up assault charges against them if they went after Ellison. Still, he did have to promise them all a three-day weekend of their choice for them to release the detective. They were cops after all and what were one or two reprimands for assault on their records. It almost guaranteed them positions in Los Angeles or Texas if they were so inclined.
So, there they sat contemplating what the next two weeks would mean to their lives. Dinner hadn't really been as pleasurable as it could have been considering they had carte blanche.
"The man is a sadist to the nth degree. Did anyone else catch the gleam in his eye when he gave us the schedule for our shoots? I've arrested perps with less intensity."
"Oh, please. We wouldn't be hearing one grumble from any of you if the ladies of the typing pool had been pegged. You don't see Schuy or me complaining."
"That's another thing," Blair interjected. "Why is Schuy included? She most definitely isn't a cop and she wasn't even here when this whole thing started."
"I'm included because I asked to be. I didn't want Megan to have all the fun." She shrugged. "I think it's kind of cool and besides, it's for charity."
Simon chomped on his cigar. "And that's supposed to make everything all right? I don't think so."
"You guys should be flattered. I mean, out of all the departments that performed, you were the ones picked. It's a great honour, especially considering how buff a lot of the SWAT guys are."
Jim frowned in the way only big brothers can. "Remind me to take your name off of the roster in the gym. You're getting entirely too familiar with the uh, facilities."
It was Simon to the rescue again or, more accurately, the Chief had held him personally responsible if Ellison so much as got a scratch. "That's enough, children. Since I can't leave bruises that might show on film, there are other ways I can make your lives hell if you keep this up." A deep groan filled the room and all eyes turned toward the defeated figure. "What's your problem, Taggert? You weren't acting up so you have nothing to fear."
"That's where you're wrong, Simon." Fearful eyes raised. "I just remembered that Rhonda had to make all of our appointments with the photographer. Simply put, I'm doomed."
JANUARY"I really hate dress blues. They're so confining."
"I don't want to hear a word from you, Ellison. The suit is nothing compared to how many shots it's going to take before the photographer is satisfied."
"Did you have to use that word in regards to him, Cap? My skin is already crawling with all of his lip-smacking."
"I know what you mean. Whenever he looks at me, I feel so dirty."
"Say, did you guys here the set-up? It seems the ladies, in full evening attire that is hot enough to set the desert on fire, will be showering us with magnums of champagne."
"I was wondering what all those cases were. What a waste." Blair shook his head. "And, you were right, Jim, we are going to have to get Henry neutered."
FEBRUARY"I am *not* taking pictures in that that get-up!"
"I don't see where the problem is, Chief."
"It looks like a diaper, man! And, he wants me to wear wings, for crying out loud!"
"You wore less on stage."
"But at least I could keep my dignity. He wants me to be a friggin' Cupid!"
"Look at it as a compliment. He's the Love God; you're uh, cute in a diaper."
MARCH"I know what my name is, but I'm not Irish."
"It doesn't matter; you look fantastic in green. Trust me."
"But I'm too big to be a leprechaun. And I don't do lederhosen."
"Mr. Taggert, please. I'm the photographer and I know what works." Sighing as he returned to his cameras. "You're just the right size."
"Ugh. Now I understand why Rafe always feels so dirty after these sessions. I swear, if he licks his lips one more time, I'm siccing Rhonda on him."
APRIL"So, why are we here? Our shoot isn't until tomorrow."
"I know, but I couldn't stay away. The six of them in shower stalls barely concealed by thin shower curtains all wet and glistening with nary a towel between them. There is a God."
"And Jim calls me hormonal."
"Besides, they are just going to die later when they realise we were here for the surprise."
Across the room:
"Why are the ladies here? I thought they weren't supposed to do this until tomorrow."
"They aren't. I don't like this."
"Have any of you guys wondered why we're in covered shower stalls? I mean, what's the point of us being bare if no one can see us?"
"What's that noise?"
"Sounds like a giant fan or something."
"Omigod! Where are the towels?"
The ladies smiled at each other. "The surprise."
MAY"I don't think it's fair. They get to watch us - why can't we watch them."
"Because you're a dog, H."
"You're supposed to be my partner, man. You know, my backup."
"I call them like I see 'em and you're dragging a bone."
"You know, Sandburg has a friend who's working on her final project at the veterinary school. She might give us a discount."
Looking down. "So, would you consider that the equivalent of his tail drooping between his legs?"
"Well, I don't know if I'd compare it to a tail, but I have to say it's fallen and won't be getting up anytime soon."
"Damn! And I promised Sherron!"
JUNE"What is this?"
"A bowtie, black silk briefs and an engagement ring, Captain."
"I know what they *are*; I was wanting to know what they're *for*?"
"Your photo shoot. You're sort of like a June bride er, groom."
"But, where's the rest of the outfit?"
"I can only *hope* hiding underneath all of those confining clothes."
JULY"If that assistant of his sprays me with water one more time, I swear I'm going to shove that water-bottle "
"Whoa, Big Guy. No need to take this out on the poor girl. She's just trying to make us look like we're glistening in the heat."
"Is there any reason why we have sparklers?"
Megan turned disbelieving eyes on Rafe. "I'm not even from here and I know. This is the July shoot."
"Fourth of July Independence Day Fireworks." Shaking her head. "And they give you a gun?"
"Where's Henry? I thought he'd be the first one in line to see us in cut-offs and halters."
The men laughed. "He's feeling a little under the weather."
"Oh? I hope it's not anything serious."
"Nah. As long as no one says 'cut off' or 'halter' in front of him, he should be fine."
AUGUST"Excuse me, but what is that little old lady doing here?"
"She's my grandmother and I promised her she could watch."
"So, you basically come by your kinks naturally."
"Oh, yeah." Handing him a few items. "Here's your wardrobe."
Looking at each item. "Exactly what is this supposed to be?"
"You're a crossing guard. See. That's your whistle and that's your sign and "
"Where are the pants?"
"Those aren't pants. I'm not even sure those are legal to direct traffic in."
"It's fantasy; work with me."
"I've never fantasised about anything like this."
"That's okay. I have."
SEPTEMBER"This is not regulation for bicycle patrol."
"Mr. Ellison, as I've told your co-workers, it is for this shoot."
"But, there's nowhere to put my badge!"
OCTOBER"Let's see. Simon's Frankenstein, Rafe's the Mummy, Megan's a witch, Schuy's the Bride of Frankenstein, Jim's the Wolfman, Henry's the Ghoul, Joel's a zombie and I'm a vampire. And they say my parties are unforgettable!"
"Sandy, Raoul says for you to get your vamp ass over here before he drives a stake through your heart."
"Okay, okay. Tell him to keep his pants on literally." Checking out his costume as he walked to the set. "I wonder if I smile at him real nice will he let me keep the cape."
NOVEMBER"Is this spread real? I'm salivating here."
"If you're a good boy and don't complain about your outfit, you can have anything you want."
"So, what do I have to be?"
Handing him a costume. "You can change over there."
"Sure thing, but can I ask you one question?"
Sighing. "Go ahead."
"Do these chafe?"
DECEMBER"I get it now. We're supposed to represent the different types of ornaments on the tree."
"But, I'm Jewish."
"Don't worry about it, Bro. To appease Mom, I talked Raoul into putting a menorah in the shot."
"Um, guys. Have you seen the little piece of fluff that we're supposed to wear for this? It makes our costumes at the benefit look decent."
"What difference does it make? Nobody's going to see it."
Schuyler and Megan grinned and chorused, "We will."
"Uh, Rafe, I don't think that's the way that's supposed to go, man."
"Speak for yourself, Sandy. I kinda like the view from here."
"Well, it's not my fault! The thing should have come with instructions."
"So, we're going to sit on the various steps with an ornament covering our uh, shielding our oh, hell! in front of us!"
"Yeah and the ladies are going to stand on either side of the tree as angels. It should look pretty cool."
"Which ornaments are we supposed to hold?"
"They have our names on them somewhere, like this large star is for Simon and this little ball is for H."
"Hey! I resent that remark."
Schuy smirked as her gaze drifted downward. "More like resemble it, dontcha mean?"
"Sandburg gets to hold the angel on top."
"I don't know if that's big enough to cover "
"Knock it off, guys. This will be fine. The robe on the angel is just the right length."
"Speaking of, why do you ladies get to wear robes? That's not fair."
"We didn't think so either, so we convinced Raoul to change our outfits."
They dropped their robes simultaneously. "You like? We got the idea from the Victoria's Secret commercial."
Henry dropped his ball. "Go ahead and schedule me to be fixed, but I want a date with those angels."
"Jim, where's your ornament?"
Sheepishly, "Uh, I don't exactly get an ornament, Sir."
"Because I'm getting wrapped in garland."
"What's that supposed to cover?"
Pouting as he shuddered, "According to Raoul, absolutely nothing."
$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$This was the day D-Day Delivery Day.
For six months, the men and women of Major Crimes had waited on pins and needles for this day to come. Everything had been kept hush-hush throughout the precinct for obvious reasons, but all of them knew, that was about to change. Though it had been arranged they would receive their copies first, the shipments would be hitting the stores soon after. And then, everybody would know.
At five minutes to twelve, all sound in the bullpen ceased and several pairs of eyes turned towards the door. Raoul and Chief Warren had promised them hand delivery of their calendars and as the clock struck twelve, they weren't disappointed.
Eight messengers walked into the squad room and went to five desks and one office. As soon as they left, eight people stood with their packages in hand and headed to the place where everything started.
Once in the conference room, Joel closed all the blinds and Jim locked the door and they all took their seats.
Simon took a breath and looked at each of his people. "Well, since everyone's here, I guess there's no time like the present."
Almost as if rehearsed, all eight packages were opened and all eight eyes focused in on the first photo.
January had Megan and Schuy in evening gowns showering the guys with champagne while they stood in full dress uniforms. The caption simply read, "The best way to start the New Year."
"That shot didn't turn out half bad and the bubbly didn't hurt my hair either."
"It was still a waste, if you ask me."
"Boys, as much as I'd love to see a battle to determine alpha male rights, I'd rather see the next month. We did agree to do this together, remember?"
"So, are we ready to turn the page?" Everyone nodded. "Okay, then do it."
Blair blushed as teasing "ahs" filled the room. His eyes could barely take in the sight of himself in nothing more than wings, the diaper and a smile - being suspended over a loving couple with a bow and arrow aimed at them.
"I knew you didn't have anything to worry about, Chief. You look perfectly decent. In fact, I'd even go as far as to say you look cute."
"Cute! Oh god, I'm doomed. I'm supposed to be in one of the hottest calendars to hit Cascade and I'm *cute*!"
"Look on the bright side, Sandburg, you could have been stuck as a leprechaun complete with top hat and lederhosen." Looking around. "Everybody ready for the next one? Okay, turn." Gasps filled the room and several of the occupants winced as Simon ducked his head. "Er, sorry, Joel."
Taggert grinned out from the page as he lounged on a green hill above a caption that playfully asked, "Feeling lucky?"
"I tried to tell him I couldn't pull off green, but did he listen? Of course not. He was too busy trying to find 'my pot of gold.'" He grinned. "One good thing comes from all of this though: Rhonda hates green and lederhosen remind her of her father. I'm getting a full night's sleep tonight."
"And on that note, next!"
The page turned and all sound ceased. This was what all the guys had been afraid of and both women had been hoping for.
Above the caption that read, "April showers ", six wonderful bodies tried unsuccessfully to hold onto flimsy curtains against torrential winds. It was obvious - the winds won.
"Oh my. The camera definitely captured all of your best sides."
"That's not all it caught. Look."
"That's not what I think it is is it?" Jim groaned.
Schuyler's eyes grew large. "That *cannot* be real!"
"Did you know he had a tattoo there? That must have really hurt."
Blair whimpered, "It didn't! I've had it all my life; it's a birthmark! And concerning the other matter, I was cold."
"Oh, check out the one on the end. You can just make out a little "
"Now Ladies, it's generally bad form to point at pictures of us and use any phrase that has little in it."
"Point noted." Pure devilment lit the grey eyes. "Speaking of: nice one, Rafe."
Coffee spewed from his nose spraying his partner and Joel. "What?"
While Henry wiped at the newly acquired coffee stains, Taggert tried to maintain a straight face in the midst of poor Rafe's torture. "Now that's not nice. I'm sure that isn't what it looks like; it's probably from bad lighting. You two should leave the poor guy alone before he dies from extensive blushing." Shaking his head. "What would your mothers think?"
"Before or after they asked for his phone number to find out for sure?"
As Simon watched his men squirm before the women, he decided it was time to make an executive decision. "I think now would be a good time to move to the next month. Any objections?"
With the speed in which the guys turned the page, not bloody likely.
"Oh wow. Does Naomi know about this?"
"If she did, do *you* honestly think she'd have let her out of the house after that?"
"So, um, now I guess we understand why they had a closed set."
"Do you think he did us justice?" The younger woman asked her friend.
Two pairs of stunned blue eyes slammed onto the smiling face of their younger sister. "You let him take pictures of you naked?" The older of the two demanded.
Schuy hit him, "Of course not. We have flowers covering the important parts."
"But what's covering the rest of it?"
"Don't get your undies in a bunch, Sandy. We were wearing flesh-toned bikinis when he painted us." Admiring the photo. "He really is an artist. Those flowers look almost real enough to touch."
"He didn't, did he?"
Schuy snorted, "Puhleeze. We barely registered negative numbers on his hormone metre." Smiling. "Alas, his heart among other things was only reserved for you guys."
"Oh my gods! Is the drool apparent?"
"Down, Megan. Remember, that's your Captain you're going blind over."
The Australian Inspector slowly perused the shot of Simon in black bowtie and tight, black satin briefs lounging on an African print rug with an engagement ring on the floor in front of him. She just couldn't get past that come-hither look. "But what a way to go. If this is the last thing my eyes see, it will be worth it."
As Connor's eyes drifted in the direction of the real thing, Simon took on the look of a deer caught in the sights of a predator and swiftly moved so that Jim shielded his body. "She is really starting to make me nervous. Can we turn the page now?"
"I don't know, Simon. It's not everyday you have a woman looking at you like you're the first meal after a month-long fast." Jim stepped aside. "Maybe you should just lean back and enjoy."
"Two words for you, Ellison: Vice photos."
"You're right, Sir. Next month."
Nobody really commented on the simple shot of all of them lounging around a picnic area holding sparklers and looking up as if fireworks filled the sky. Even though all the guys were bare-chested and wearing badges on a chain around their necks, no one considered it in bad taste. And, since they were all in it, none of them could single out any particular person
But, that changed as soon as they hit the month of August and its "School Rules."
"Who the hell is that old lady?"
Pouting. "Raoul's grandmother."
"What's she doing in the shot?"
"From the angle she's looking *and* the way she's licking her lips, I'd say enjoying her view of Rafe."
"Between the two of them, I felt like a large slab of prime rib."
"Speaking of prime rib, have you guys seen September?"
"No fair! You peeked! We were supposed to do this together to cut down on the embarrassment."
"Yeah, like that was working." Megan gave them all her most innocent look. "My hand slipped."
"Uh huh, sure. Not like we haven't heard that before."
The rest of them turned to September and even the guys had to take a deep breath. Underneath the caption, "September's Glory," Detective Jim Ellison leaned against his bike only wearing biker shorts and a contented smile as he poured water over his well-heated body.
"Man, Ellison, if I were so inclined "
Jim glared at the other man and cocked an eyebrow, "You'd, what?" He challenged.
"I'd uh go out and buy a bike just like that one."
"That's what I thought." He looked around the room. "Any other comments?"
Blair snickered, "Yeah, when this does hit the stores, we're gonna have to buy a guard dog."
Surprisingly, the October picture was pretty tame if you consider goblins and ghouls and other things that go bump in the night tame.
Of course, Simon's eagle eye did pick up the one problem with the photo. "Uh, Rafe, I hate to tell you this, but your wrapping slipped."
"Now that you mention it that does explain why this one simply says 'Boo!'"
Henry tried to comfort his now distraught and, at least in the photo, exposed partner but his excitement got the best of him. "I'm November and you'll never figure out who I'm supposed to be."
They flipped over to the next one and stared.
As much as she tried to fight the urge, Schuy had to say something. "I'm confused. Why are you wearing chaps, a cowboy hat and a g-string for the month that has Thanksgiving?" "Read the caption."
"It just says, 'Howdy, Pilgrim.'"
"Yeah, cool, huh." No one got it. "I'm like John Wayne. You know, pilgrim Thanksgiving." Starting to sulk. "Well, I thought it was cute."
Simon made a note to check on the last time Henry had a psyche review and decided if it hadn't been in the last few months, to schedule one a.s.a.p. "Uh, yeah. So, only one to go. Are we ready?" Seven heads nodded in unison. "Okay, then. Here's hoping Christmas doesn't bring too many surprises."
A couple of feminine giggles filled the air and Brown gagged.
The big captain could only smile and shake his head at the picture his group made on the last page. Though he didn't say anything out loud to them, Jim swore he heard him mumble to himself, "I tried to tell him that angel wasn't big enough, but no one listened to me. And damned if Raoul wasn't right when he said garland didn't cover anything."
If you're wondering, Chief Warren's not finished with them yet and I do drop a few more clues in the final story about the date that caused all of this. So, keep looking for, - If I sign it "With Love," Do I Really Have To Mean It?