Well, it happened again but I think I've made a little progress.
I was idling and a/c and fans turn off. Engine temp begins to rise so I shut the car off. But this time when I turn the car off and start it, I turn the a/c off and the fans keep running. I can't remember if I tried that the other day (could have swore I did) but the issue seems to lie with the a/c. So I tried again, started the car and kept the a/c on, fans turn off.
However, WHY would my fans stay off if my car is overheating? I wonder if a failing alternator could cause this. Going to test it.