Disclaimer: Pet Fly created this universe, I just play there.
Author's Notes: Inspiration comes from the strangest places... like reading the ingredients on your favorite fancy shower-gels. For Jael Lyn.
The Seven Hour Itch
Jim woke, startled, as Andrea's alarm clock went off. She switched off the bell, and sighed, kissing him good morning. "God, I don't want to go," she sighed, reluctantly wriggling away from his loose embrace.
"You'll miss your flight," Jim warned her, sleepily.
"Help me get ready?" she offered, laughing.
They showered together. Jim picked up a green bottle from the built-in shelf, and poured out a dollop of lemon-scented bath gel to wash with.
He dropped her off at the airport. They were still at that early part of the relationship where any goodbyes had to be repeated, interrupted with long kisses and near-baby talk, and the lady's week-long business trip called for something especially gooey and embarrassing.
Andrea didn't miss her flight, but by the time Jim walked back to his truck and managed to wipe her lipstick from his mouth with a spit-drenched napkin, he was nearly late for work.
"Hel-lo Casanova," Blair Sandburg called in greeting as he walked into the bullpen. Jim merely smiled, too much of a gentleman to kiss and tell, but let the smile widen into a grin, smugly reflecting that he'd been a wallflower for too long after his divorce, and had spent most of their friendship watching the younger man work his way through the female half of the Cascade phone book.
He sat down at his desk, and started the morning paperwork, absently crossing an arm over his broad chest and scratching along his left ribcage through the thin material of his gray T-shirt.
Later, he was driving with one hand on the wheel and the other scratching furiously at his right thigh.
At a crime scene, he examined evidence with his heightened senses, uniformed officers watching the tall detective and the long haired observer curiously, as the shorter man followed Ellison closely, one hand on his back, scratching that one spot between the shoulder blades you can never reach.
At the end of the day, on their way home, Blair watched as Jim scratched at his forearm, and finally asked, "So, during your last vision, did the jaguar give you fleas?"
Jim glared at him. And scratched.
Blair had been living with Jim for nearly three years. The glare held no power over him. Not intimidated, he continued, "there's a certain irony in putting a sentinel on Sentinel, but what's with all the scratching?"
Jim turned the glare up a notch, and sighed when it had no obvious effect. "I itch," he explained, as if Sandburg had just asked him the stupidest question in the known universe.
"You spent the night at Andrea's... and now you itch..." Blair said slowly. "she doesn't have a cat, or a dog, or anything? 'Cause I was just kidding about fleas, but... you told her about your 'allergies', right?"
Allergies. A convenient excuse for a throwback to a pre-civilized breed of man's sometimes unusual reactions to the modern world.
"Yeah, I told her about my allergies. She washes her sheets in Delicare anyway, always has. And no, no cats or dogs." Jim reached up to scratch his neck.
"Hmm," Blair said, and bit his bottom lip.
As soon as they walked into the loft, Jim took four children's chewable Benadryl and headed for the fridge, intent on dinner preparations. Nothing fancy. They'd had roast beef earlier in the week. Potato salad and a loaf of rye bread had been picked up at the market. He built himself a sandwich one handed, the other hand chasing down randomly striking itches.
Blair, however, devoted to his sentinel's health and the future of his thesis, was like a kid with a new puzzle.
"You didn't eat anything new while you were over there?" Blair asked. Andrea's company imported exotic foodstuffs for catering and gourmet restaurants. She often had samples of things not normally found in American kitchens in her larder.
"No. We had takeout," Jim explained patiently, hooking a pair of cola cans out of the fridge and bringing them to the table.
Blair took a bite of potato salad and chewed thoughtfully.
"I showered," Jim offered, taking a bite of his sandwich. He wouldn't get any peace until they had this figured out. On two levels; Blair wouldn't stop asking questions until he had it figured out, and he couldn't help stop the itch until he knew what caused it. "Used some of her fancy bath gel."
Blair's eyes lit up with the word 'eureka'. "Bath gel," he repeated. "You remember what kind of bath gel?"
Jim shrugged and scratched his chin, "Some lemony stuff in a green bottle..." trying to remember. He understandably hadn't been paying much attention at the time. "Avalon," he snapped his fingers. "Lemon verbena. Andrea gets it at your health food store, that's how we met, that time you sent me out for Kelp Helper."
Blair nodded sharply, and abandoned his supper, going to the phone to call Hearthstone Health Food before they closed. "Hey, Gabrielle? Blair. I know this sounds... um... do you carry Avalon shower gels? You do. Could you grab a bottle of lemon verbena and read the ingredients to me? Organic botanicals are great, but my friend Jim's having an allergic reaction I'm trying to track..." Blair rolled his eyes and turned to glare across the loft. "Yeah, Jim's the tall one with the eyes and the Abs of Steel..."
Jim smirked and took another bite of roast beef.
Holding the line, Blair fished around in a drawer for the clipper of recycled computer paper they used as a notepad, and a pen.
"Okay. Certified organic lemon verbena and lavender floral waters, herbal infusion of certified organic calendula, chamomile, horsetail, yarrow, coltsfoot, and sagethat's it! Jim's allergic to sage. Oh yeah? Well, if the itching gets worse... yeah. Thanks Gabrielle." Blair hung up with a snort.
Blair came back to the table. "Oh, like you weren't listening in."
Jim managed to look slightly affronted with one hand snaking up under his shirt. "Chief, you really think I listen in on your phone conversations?"
"No," Blair admitted suspiciously, "I just can't believe I have to repeat this." He sat down, and picked up his sandwich again. At Jim's encouraging look, he sighed. "Gabrielle suggested an oatmeal bath. And offered to help."
"Come on man, you've got Andrea," Blair grumbled, having been shot down repeatedly by the lady in question. "And Gabrielle is totally not your type, she's got a nose-ring!"
"Hey, when you've got it..." Jim said, mildly.
"Hypocrites." Blair helped himself to more potato salad. "Some of these women say they want a sensitive, environmentally aware, multicultural male, but what they really want is beefcake that can parrot enough PC to not embarrass them in front of their friends..." He paused for breath and noticed what Jim was scratching now. "Not while we're eating, man. Ewww."
After dinner, Jim took a shower with a fresh bar of oatmeal soap, and checked himself for hives or rashes. There was no sign. The skin was a little red where he had been scratching, and he had a few cuts where he'd scratched so hard his nails had sliced through skin. He concentrated on his sense of touch for a moment, picturing a dial for it. The technique Blair had taught him had worked to control the pain of a minor gunshot wound, it should work for an itch. He turned the dial down, and slathered cortisone cream on the red spots and the cuts.
Blair researched. It was what he did best. He had a general medical textbook, home diagnosis and remedies for common ailments, and he looked up allergic reactions and rashes, he fired up his laptop and read a little more. Hopefully, what Jim had already done would be enough. If the itch got worse, or he had trouble breathing, they'd have to go to the emergency room.
Blair considered the logistics of a 5 foot 7, hundred and sixty pound man moving a 6 foot 2, two hundred pound unconscious man down one or possibly two flights of stairs, and practiced the 911 call in his head, the apartment address, and the nearest major intersection.
It was times like this when it really bothered him, the faith Jim had. He was winging it, making this stuff up on the fly, out of common sense, best guesses, and fragmentary tribal legends... and Jim always trusted that he knew what to do, how to fix it.
Blair's greatest fear was that one day his luck would fail him.
He hid his fears for the rest of the night, just keeping a close eye on Jim. Joking about making Jim wear socks on his hands like a kid with chicken pox, whenever he caught the sentinel scratching again. Jim took another dose of Benadryl before going to bed. And luckily, this time, it was enough.
Andrea wasn't insulted, upon her return, by Jim's suggestion she replace her bath gel. Maybe because he sponsored a little shopping spree at Crabtree and Evelyn.
And they all lived happily ever after. Until Jim inhaled some of the rose extract in Nantucket Briar and sneezed until he blacked out.
~ End ~
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Page last updated 8/15/03.