It's only the fifth of January, 2000, and I've finished my 100th story. Night before last, actually. I originally thought that writing a hundred stories was impossible. But then I wrote seventy-four of them the first year. Unfortunately, a couple of flames and the upn battle took quite a bit of wind out of my sails and I slowed down, considerably. But when I realized that I'd sent in my ninety-first story to the wonderful Wolfpup, I realized that the goal was within reach. What had been a joke could become a reality. My first story was posted on 6 Jan 98. I figured that if I had 104 finished by 6 Jan 00, I'd have averaged one a week for two years. Well, real life intervened and I decided to count the three DS stories on someone else's page, and the one published in Sentry Post 5. Well, guess what? If I count my second CVT episode, which will air 10 Jan 00, and I finish this one by tomorrow, I'll have 104 stories on Wolfpup's page, whether she gets them posted by the sixth, or not. I'll have done what I wanted to do. Sometimes, I scare myself.
Even after all the TS fic I've written, they still don't belong to me. Sadly, they never will, but that's OK, I don't believe in slavery. ;] Since I've made no money from this (although, I've received a wealth of learning how to write a story from all this practice) and the owners of the intellectual property I'm borrowing have been kind enough, so far, to not sue any of us (for which we should all be very grateful), I'm hoping that they will continue their largess and refrain from suing me now.
I think this one should be for Wolfpup. For providing me such a lovely home on the web, for her encouragement ("Hey, are you OK? I haven't received any stories from you lately."), for her willingness to listen, and just for being her. Thanks, Tonya, for everything.
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Come on, Sandburg, breathe. You remember how to do that, don't you? Come on, man, suck in some air, Damnit!
~Gasp~ Oh, man. That hurts. That really hurts! Please, ohpleaseohpleaseohplease! ~Gasp~ Come on, do it again ~gasp, shaky breath real breath~ OK, that's better. Now, where else does it hurt?
Oh, man. Jim was going to have a field day with this one. He could just hear him, now, that exasperated tone of voice, the one that made him want to hit his best friend. That slightly condescending, superior... concerned, worried. Oh. Well, he could still hear it. Of course, having heard it on a number of other occasions, he shouldn't be surprised. But still...
"Sandburg? What the hell happened to you?"
Oh, yeah. Just like he'd imagined it. "Nothing." Gee, that was bright.
"Nothing!? You look like you got run over by a train, man. What happened?" He looked over his roommate, extending his senses to check out his injuries. His hands reached, seemingly of their own volition, to gently skim over the bandage on Blair's forehead, down and over the myriad of bruises on his face, down over the taped ribs... His eyes bored holes through Blair's and seemed, laserlike, to bore straight through all thoughts of obfuscation, cauterizing his thought processes so that only the truth came out of his mouth.
"So... from what did you fall, how far did you fall, and what did you land on? Oh, and what did you hit on the way down?"
Yep. There was that tone, the slightly exasperated, somewhat condescending, caring, worried tone. As much as that tone of voice annoyed him, it also warmed him from the inside out.
"Uh, you don't really want to know." Uh-oh. Wrong thing to say. All the signs were there. The arms folded across the chest, the clenched jaw, the 'don't give me that' glare.
"Well, you see, I was just..."
"Sandburg!" It came out a growl. The one that reminded Blair of a mother bear, warning an intruder away from its cub...
"I was at the library."
"You fell at the library?" Annoyance turning to confusion.
"Yes. The library. I was looking at some books in the research archive. I was up on a ladder, you know, in the back, on the first floor? That area where it's fourteen feet high? With the floor- to-ceiling shelving?"
"Yeah." The puzzled look was still there. Jim knew that the ladders in that section of the library were very sturdy and hooked on railings that went around the room.
"Well, I was up near the ceiling, and... I... just, sorta, fell." His voice trailed down to a mere mumble.
"How did you manage that?"
"What?" The mumble had been too indistinct for even Sentinel ears.
"I said, a car came through the wall."
Blair looked up from where he'd been examining the pattern in the floor. Jim was just standing there, staring at him. A puzzled expression on his face.
"How, or maybe I should ask, why, did a car come through the building and knock you off a ladder?"
"Uh, it was being chased by the police?"
"Uh-huh. Go on." There was a flicker of amusement in the pale blue eyes as understanding dawned.
"Well, it seems that the guys in the car had robbed a mini-mart and their timing was lousy and they pulled away from the store in front of a squad car, and they pulled an illegal u-turn right in front of the cops and they went after them, and then they got the call about the robbery and they were already in pursuit and the idiots in the car tried to make the corner by the library and they lost control and they spun across the street and ploughed into the building and I was on the ladder when they came through and they knocked the ladder out from under me and I was hanging onto the shelves and the shelves broke loose from the wall and..."
"Breathe, Sandburg. Take a breath, will you?" Jim's expression had turned to one of amused tolerance.
"Yeah, well, I had to relearn how to do that, too." Blair groused.
"Go on. You were hanging from the shelves and they broke loose from the wall and...?"
"And the books over my head hit me on the way down, and the broken shelves lower down caught at me as I was going by, and then I hit one broken shelf and it knocked the wind out of me and then the rest of the shelf I had been hanging on to came down on top of me and..."
"~gasp~ and the idiots tried to escape on foot by climbing over the broken shelving and the tumbled books, and when they tried to climb over me, I punched one of them out and the other one... just, sorta gave up?" It wasn't funny. He could see that Jim was trying desperately not to laugh out loud. Blair glared at his friend.
A chuckle broke free. "Only you could manage to do something like this, Chief." The chuckles grew into guffaws and Jim shook his head, trying to regain control. Blair's glare didn't help any.
"So glad I can provide you with amusement, Jim."
"S-sorry, Chief. I know it's not funny to you, but..." His chortles overwhelmed his ability to speak, and he gave up.
"Gee. Get a grip, Ellison." This was so not what he'd expected.
"O-OK, Sorry, sorry. So, how bad are your ribs?"
"Cracked. Three of them. When I landed across the bookshelf and knocked the wind out of me. That was scary, not being able to suck in any air." He shook his head, "Not anything I'd like to do again, man. Not ever."
"Yeah, I know." Jim helped him off with his coat, hanging it up for him. Then, Jim took his backpack and set it down under the coat hooks. Finally, taking Blair by the arm, he led him to the couch and urged him to sit. Once he was satisfied that his injured roommate was as comfortable as possible, he headed for the kitchen, where he'd been preparing dinner.
"So, did the hospital give you anything for the pain?" The question was delivered in a nonchalant tone of voice, but Blair wasn't fooled.
"Did you get the prescription filled?"
"Give it to me." He was standing over his roommate, his size and Blair's position on the couch intimidating, or would have been to anyone not fully inured to the Jim Ellison Method of Intimidation. Besides, Blair was fully aware that for all his reputation and expressions of toughness, there was no way that Jim would ever consciously hurt him. However, Blair also knew when it was the right time to fight and when it wouldn't do him any good. This was one of those times.
Sighing, he pulled the prescriptions out.
"This one is for an antibiotic. Why did they give you antibiotics?" Jim glared, the patented one, the 'What are you trying to hide from me' glare. The one Blair had dubbed 'Blessed Protector Glare number 43'.
"Uh..." But it was too late. Jim had already reached and started unbuttoning Blair's shirt. Pulling it open, he observed that in addition to the rip-wrap, there was a bandage, high on Blair's shoulder.
"Do you mind?!" Blair tried to shoo his roommate away but, as usual, it was totally ineffective.
"What is this?"
"I got cut. Eight stitches. It's nothing."
"Stitches is nothing. What's it from?"
Blair tried his best glare. It bounced ineffectually off his partner. Capitulating, he sighed. "The guy I hit stabbed me."
"With a penknife, man. It was all of one and a half inches long."
"Oh. But how dirty was it, Chief?"
"So, why didn't you get the prescriptions filled?"
Uh-oh. Jim was coming over all big brother, now. He sighed, realizing that the only thing that was going to save him at this point was the unvarnished truth.
"I didn't have enough money for it." Blair didn't look at his friend, knowing what he would see, if he did. Guilt. Even though it wasn't his fault, Jim tended to take responsibility for his lack of funds. Sure, he got a pretty decent paycheck from being a cop. But with the payments on all his student loans... he tended to run out of money.
"Sandburg, you mean to tell me you didn't have ten bucks to get your prescriptions filled?"
Huh? Ten bucks? "Jim, those particular antibiotics cost over a buck a pill, man. One hundred pills, over one hundred dollars, simple addition, man."
Jim stared at him. "Sandburg." The tone was exasperated again, then the expression changed to one of gentle amusement. "You know, for such a smart man, sometimes you can be a real idiot, you know that?"
"Didn't you sign up for medical insurance when you came on board officially?"
"Well, yeah. Of course. What's your point?"
"Part of the standard package is prescriptions at five bucks each."
Blair blinked. "What?"
"You have prescription coverage, Blair."
"Oh." Gee, Sandburg, for someone that everyone thinks is so smart, you sure are an idiot.
"I'll pick these up for you later. I have to go out, anyway. I didn't have time to do the shopping this afternoon, so I'll do it after dinner."
Jim smiled at him, patted his leg and stood up.
"So, does this mean I can put my clothes back on?" Probably not the smartest crack he could have made.
"Well, since you're half out of them already, why don't you go change into your sweats. You'll be more comfortable and if you fall asleep, it won't matter.
Blair had fallen asleep on the couch while he'd been out doing their shopping. Quietly closing the door behind him, Jim carried the bags of groceries into the kitchen and put them away. Once he'd folded up the paper bags for re-use as trashcan liners, he returned to the living room and removed his coat and hung it up. He started to turn away and then remembered and turned back to pull the small white prescription bag from his coat pocket. He carried the bag over and set it down on the coffee table. Seeing that the younger man was sound asleep, he simply pulled the afghan from the back of the couch and covered him up, carefully tucking the covers around the sleeping body. He'd worry about making him take his meds in the morning.
"Oh, shit. No. No. Please? Ohpleaseohpleaseohpleaseohplease. Nonononono. ~groan~ Oh, man. Jim? Jim?? JIM!"
"Easy, buddy. Take it easy. You're safe. It's okay, Blair. Shhhh." The still sleepy Sentinel gently gathered his only semi-awake friend into his arms, reassuring him that whatever the problem was, he was safe, that Jim wasn't going to let anything happen to him
"Jim?" Blair was still only partially awake. "What? Ow, owowowowow. Oh, man, that hurts."
"Here." Jim held out some pills. Blair took them without asking what they were and popped them in his mouth, taking the glass of water Jim offered him and washing the pills down with it. Jim took the glass back and set it on the coffee table, next to the medicine bottles. Then, adjusting his grip on his roommate, he settled back on the couch, snuggling his still half-asleep partner against his chest, reassuring the smaller man that he was safe.
"Go back to sleep, Chief." He murmured softly, preparing to spend the rest of the night keeping the nightmares away from his friend.
Blair, held safely and securely in his Blessed Protector's arms, drifted back to sleep, confident and comforted by his presence.
Warm. Comfortable. Lumpy pillow, though. Hard, lumpy pillow. He opened his eyes. It wasn't a pillow. It was a hip. Carefully raising himself, stifling the gasp of pain that tried to suck the air from his body, he turned carefully over and looked. And smiled. Easing back down, he wiggled a bit to get comfortable again and lay his head back down. Jim's arm shifted and wrapped around his shoulder, tugging him closer. With a broad grin, he allowed himself to be held to Jim's side. Even in his sleep, Jim was taking care of him. He hoped that Jim's neck was all right, sleeping like this.
When next he woke, it was daylight. His Jim-pillow had been replaced by a real one. Some time earlier, from how warm it was. He cautiously sat up, very conscious of how much more everything hurt this morning. He saw the saucer on the coffee table, holding his meds with a glass of water beside it. Sighing, he took the pills, popped them in his mouth and washed them down with the conveniently placed water. Looking around, he realized that he was alone. Pushing back the covers... (and when had the afghan been added with a real blanket?), he carefully stood up and stretched, easing the pain of sore and misused muscles that would just as soon he stayed down and asleep. Looking around, he found the note on the kitchen table.
"Sandburg. I'm going in to the station. I called you in, so take it easy and don't forget to take your meds and eat something."
Yep. Even when the injuries were minor and Jim and/or the job had nothing to do with them, he was always going to be his Blessed Protector. Although it hurt the bruises on his face, he couldn't keep the broad smile from his face.
His Blessed Protector. It was a really nice feeling.
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