Disclaimer: See home page.
Spoilers: Minor spoilers at the end of the story.
Author's Notes: Author's notes at the end of the story.
"Jim. I said I was sorry."
Blair watched as his angry partner quickly exited the elevator and headed down the hallway towards their door. Still feeling the effects of the drugs from the ER and the fall he took earlier he slowly limped along the same hallway, using the wall for support.
After opening the door Jim turned before entering and loudly declared, "I don't want to hear it, Sandburg. In fact the only thing I want to hear tonight is silence. I just want to be left alone, understand?" So saying he entered the loft they shared and, childish as it was, gave the door a good, hard push, enjoying the loud 'bang' as it slammed shut. Going directly up to his bedroom he started to undress, wanting nothing more than a hot shower and a cold beer, a combination which would hopefully help remove the image of his impetuous, civilian partner and the perp he had been chasing crashing through that rotting railing and falling to the concrete floor below.
Once again Sandburg failed to do as he was told, namely stay outside the deserted building and wait for backup. This time he'd been lucky, they only fell one story, with Blair landing mostly on top of the suspect. Even so it had cost him a twisted ankle, bruised ribs and a mild concussion. It could easily have been much worse. Fortunately the same fall had also injured Peterson enough for him to get down to them and cuff him. Only instead of being able to go to the station and get all the paperwork finished at a decent hour for once, he had to accompany his unnecessarily injured guide on a several hour long trip to the hospital. And now he could look forward to checking on Sandburg every hour or so for the rest of the night while still having to be at the station extra early in the morning to start the paperwork from tonight. This time he hadn't hesitated in being very vocal about how he felt about the whole situation.
Cocking his head he realized something was wrong. Blair hadn't entered the loft yet. Even as slow as he was moving, he should have been inside by now.
Damn. Blair didn't have his keys with him since the Volvo wasn't running again and he'd been with Jim all day. He couldn't get in. Feeling a pang of guilt when he realized he hadn't even offered to help Blair with the trip from the elevator to the loft, then left him stranded outside, Jim hurried downstairs and opened the door, checking the hallway.
In fact the only thing I want to hear tonight is silence. I just want to be left alone, understand? As his own words came back to him Jim got a sinking feeling in his stomach. Blair wouldn't think that he meant...? Well, why not? After the way he'd been treating Sandburg all night coupled with what he'd just said then practically slamming the door in his face, knowing he didn't have his keys, what else could he think?
Running back upstairs he quickly re-dressed and left the warmth of the loft heading back into the cold, dark night. Starting the truck he quickly turned up the heat to offset the bitter wind blowing outside. Worry clutched at his gut as he thought about his injured partner out alone on a night like this. At least it wasn't raining. As the cab warmed up he tried to think of where Blair could go in his condition. This time of night nothing much was open, even if he had the means to get anywhere. Only one place came to mind and considering the weather it was a long shot, but it was all he had right now. He half hoped he was right and half hoped he was wrong. With a mixture of hope and dread he put the truck in gear and headed for the small park a few blocks from the loft. Blair often went there when he wanted to be alone to think something through. Just not usually this late at night or when it was this cold outside.
There was only one permanent structure in the park, a cement building that housed two restrooms. Parking as close to the building as possible Jim cautiously sent his hearing out, hoping to hear anything that indicated that his guide was nearby. After filtering out traffic and other ambient noises he finally heard the familiar thumping he knew he could pick out in a crowded stadium. It was slower than it should be and the labored, raspy breathing had him out of the truck and running across the wide expanse of brown grass that separated him from his friend.
Jim found him huddled in front of the locked Men's restroom door. He was hunched down as far into his short jacket as he could manage with his hands pushed deep into the pockets. The zig-zagging cement walls leading up to the door helped block most of the wind but did nothing for the bone-numbing cold. Blair's skin was too pale and cold to the touch with his lips starting to acquire a bluish tinge. Kneeling down in front of the freezing younger man Jim took off his gloves, huffed a hot breath on both of his hands and pressed them against the pale, icy cheeks, then lightly began to rub them with his thumbs.
"C'mon, Chief. Open your eyes for me."
After a long minute of rubbing the blue eyes began to flutter. Finally they opened, a dazed look in them. The eyes opening seemed to remind the rest of Blair's body of how cold it was as he immediately started shivering.
"J'm? W-wha you d-doin' h-here?"
"Taking you home as soon as you can stand up."
Blair brows frowned in confusion as he shook his head. "I-I s-scu'd up 'ga'n. Y-you d-don' want m-me there. L-locked me o-out."
Jim closed his eyes at the plaintive tone of Blair's voice. He wanted to explain but he knew that between the painkillers, the concussion and now the cold Blair wouldn't be forming or comprehending any coherent thoughts for a while. He opened his eyes; his main priority right now was to take care of his friend. "I'm sorry about that. I didn't mean to lock you out. Let's get you home and warm you up, then we can talk. Okay?"
"W-warm? I-I... cold, J'm."
"I know, buddy, I know." After putting his gloves over Blair's frozen hands he slowly and carefully helped his partner stand up. It only took one faltering step to see that the long period of inactivity, plus the cold, had stiffened up all of Blair's muscles, including the ones supporting his ankle. Without saying a word Jim leaned down and deftly swooped the injured man into his arms, cradling him against his chest. Unfortunately the injured party wasn't nearly as appreciative as he could have been.
"J'm! Pu' me down. I c'n w-walk."
Jim just hitched his load up a little higher. "No, you can't, Chief. Not right now. Let me do this for you. Please?" Especially since it's my fault you're out here.
Instead of the anticipated fight Blair wrapped his arms around Jim's neck and laid his head on one broad shoulder. "Cold. T-tired. Home. P-please?"
Awed by this simple show of trust despite everything that had happened previously Jim held his friend closer and began the slow, careful walk back to the still running truck. He'd kept the heater turned on in anticipation of what he might find. As he walked he was surprised to discover that the distance back to the truck seemed a lot farther than he thought. Even though Blair was several inches shorter he managed to pack plenty of solid muscle onto his compact frame, proving once again that he was not the lightweight many people mistakenly thought he was. Jim was panting slightly by the time he belted Blair into the passenger seat.
An hour later Jim was sitting back watching his friend as he dozed on the longer sofa in the living room. Eternally grateful that the elevator was still working when they got back to their building, Jim had carried the semi-conscious Blair from the truck to the sofa. There he stripped him of his cold clothes and re-dressed him in warm sweats and thick socks. He even managed to get a cup of hot tea into him before the lure of soft pillows and warm blankets became too much and the once almost frozen guide peacefully slipped into a more natural and healing sleep. His temperature was now closer to normal and his color was much better. Jim shivered, and not from the cold, when he thought about what he could have lost because he let his anger override his main responsibility: protect the guide. He let an injured and concussed Blair wander away at a time when he needed him most. Even though they would still talk about what had happened at the stakeout earlier tonight, the sentinel now knew, deep in his heart and soul, that he would never take his guide's safety for granted again.
When Blair finally started to stir Jim sat on the edge of the sofa, facing him. The blue eyes that opened this time were much clearer and the smile genuine. "Hey man."
"Hey yourself. How're feeling?"
"A lot better than I was. A lot warmer, too." He looked down then back up again. "And Jim? Thanks for... well, for coming after me."
"Anytime. But when did you develop so many muscles? I almost hurt myself hauling you around."
The smile got even bigger. "Hey, I gotta keep in shape. Someday I might have to carry you."
Jim reached out and cupped a now much warmer cheek in his palm. "You already do, Chief. You already do."
~ End ~
Author's Additional Notes: This short story was inspired by a discussion on the CascadeTimes List as to whether or not Jim could pick up and carry Blair in his arms as often described in TS fanfic. The final consensus was that he could, but probably not for a long distance since Blair really isn't the lightweight he's often portrayed as being. It was also agreed that the best physical description for Blair is compact, as in smaller in stature than Jim or Simon but still having a fairly solid build. After the discussion ended, I sat down and wrote this in virtually one sitting, trying to incorporate both ideas into one story. It was originally posted on CT as well as a few other TS lists.
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Page last updated 8/15/03.