Breaking the Habit
Author Notes: I looked up the definition of 'Addiction' so I put it at the beginning of this challenge response.
"Addiction" means to devote oneself toward something, toward someone, toward some activity, or toward some experience. It means "to say yes to", "to consent to". The word "addiction" shares the same Latin root, dicere, as the words abdication, dictator, and dictation.
"Hey, Jimbo, you don't need Sandy this afternoon do you?" The nasal tones of an Australian accent cut across the bullpen like a nail down a blackboard, causing Jim to wince.
"He's a free agent, Connor, he doesn't need a permission slip."
"Bonzer." Megan removed her hand from the mouthpiece of her phone. "You can meet me there at one o'clock, Sandy, My shout for lunch. Don't be late."
Jim was dying to ask what she wanted with Sandburg, and he knew that she knew he wanted to ask. However, he wasn't going to give her the satisfaction of asking, no siree.
Megan raised her hand to catch Blair's attention as he entered Mario's, a small Italian restaurant she'd discovered while interviewing a witness to a mugging a few weeks previously. They served big portions and did a good range of healthy vegetarian dishes for which she was thankful; it meant that Jim Ellison would never step foot in it.
"So, what's the emergency, Megan?" Blair snagged a breadstick and munched on it as he looked with interest at the menu, he'd never been here before and it looked interesting. The prices weren't bad either.
Megan plucked the menu out of his hands and put it down, forcing him to look at her.
"I've been asked to help out on a case for Vice." She said.
"Hey, congratulations." He gave her one of his special smiles; one that he normally reserved for his partner. "Thanks for inviting me to help celebrate."
"Yes, well, that's only one of the reasons I wanted you here."
"I've never worked in Vice before, and I've had to take a couple of classes in psychology, you know, to get some background on why people do what they do, prostitutes, drug dealers; those kind of people, you know?"
"Yeah, I know." He nodded. "Hey, maybe you should talk to Jim, he was in Vice before he transferred to Major Crime."
"Sandy, one of the classes was on addiction and what motivates the addicts."
They were interrupted by their waitress who introduced herself as Nina and told them the specials of the day. Megan ordered the tomato and mozzarella salad to go with her cannelloni and Blair ordered the spinach and ricotta ravioli with the green salad. They ordered iced tea as both were driving.
When she had gone Megan rummaged in her purse for the notes she'd taken.
"Here, read this." She handed them over.
"Good job I'm used to deciphering Jim's notes." He fished out his glasses and read the notes in silence. Once he'd finished he handed them back to her. "Um, Megan, no offence, but I've minored in psychology and none of this is new to me."
"Sandy, I think you have a problem."
"Well sure I have a problem, Megan, I don't understand what the hell you're talking about."
"Sandy, I want to help."
"Megan, I'm not addicted to anything. Except maybe hot showers, ask Jim."
"They said the first step to breaking an addiction is to admit you have an addiction in the first place. Like alcoholics standing up in an AA meeting an admitting they're an alcoholic."
"I am not an alcoholic, Megan." Blair hissed. "I can barely handle two beers, and believe me, that isn't something to be proud of when you're surrounded by macho cops."
"I'm not saying you are an alcoholic, Sandy. I'm giving that as an example."
"Okay, so perhaps you'd like to tell me what you think I'm addicted to?"
Blair stared at her, for one unable to think of anything to say.
Nina came back just then with their lunches and silence reigned as they ate. It also gave Blair time to think.
Finally, their plates cleared, they sat back and stared at each other.
"Well?" It was Megan who broke the silence.
"You think I'm addicted to Jim Ellison?"
"I know you're addicted to Jim Ellison."
"Megan, we're friends, that's all."
"Oh come off it!" She scoffed. "All he has to do is crook his little finger and you come running! Jesus, Sandy, you drowned! Ellison almost does the horizontal mambo with your killer and you just move back in as if it never happened!" She saw the look of pain and hurt on his face and leaned forward, placing her hand over his.
"I'm not trying to hurt you, Sandy, I want to help you."
"Well you're not doing too well so far." He pulled his hand away.
"Then tell me what I can do to help."
"You can leave me alone for starters."
"I can't do that." She shook her head. "I'm going to help you break your addiction."
"I'm not addicted to Jim, Megan." He ran his hand through his hair. "I'm in love with him."
It was Megan's turn to be speechless and he gave a wry smile.
"Surprised me." She took his hand again. "I guess love's pretty much like an addiction isn't it? Easy to confuse the two?"
"Is that why you chase every skirt you see? To try to hide it?"
"I chase, but never catch."
"What are you going to do?"
"Do as I've always done, I suppose. Keep hiding how I feel."
"Sandy, it's not healthy, what you're doing. You can't live like this."
"Where am I going to go, Megan? I can't afford a place of my own and Jim needs me. Besides, I haven't finished my dissertation."
"That's another thing I want to talk to you about."
Blair groaned, knowing where this was heading.
"You know you can't publish the sentinel one don't you?"
"What do you mean?"
Uh oh, he knew she was serious when she used his name.
"Yeah, I know." He slumped in his chair. "I've already changed it."
"And you haven't told Ellison?"
"He'll kick me out again."
"Then get in there first."
"Find another place to live. Maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder."
"Got any more clichés to trot out?"
"Lots, but I'll spare you." She signalled for the check. "I'll see you later tonight; we'll go apartment hunting."
"Megan, I can't afford a lot."
"Then we'll pool together, get a place we can both afford."
"You and me?"
"Why not? We're friends, aren't we?"
"Yeah, we are."
"It'll be fun."
"Uh, Jim, do you have a minute?"
They'd eaten and Jim was intent on watching a basketball game on television when Blair decided to approach him.
"Make it quick, Chief."
"I'm going out with Megan tonight; apartment hunting."
"Yeah, she mentioned she was looking." Jim was still distracted by the game.
"Well, you see, she wants me to move in with her." Blair waited to see what Jim would say to that; he didn't have long to wait.
"She thinks we can get something pretty decent with the two of us pooling our resources."
"So what? You're not happy here any more?"
"Jim, that isn't the point."
"Then tell me what is?"
"You and I don't have a formal agreement here. You could decide at any moment that I've outstayed my welcome and I wouldn't have a leg to stand on."
"You're thinking about what happened before. Chief, you know I wouldn't throw you out again, don't you?"
"I can't take that chance, Jim."
Jim's face hardened when he noticed the uncertainty in Blair's eyes.
"You do what you want, Sandburg. I'll take this as your months notice, shall I?"
"She's here. Don't keep your new roommate waiting." Jim turned back to the television.
Blair stayed where he was for a few moments, hoping for some sign from Jim that he didn't mean what he'd just said. When Jim didn't move he got his coat, picked up his keys and left.
"Ellison being an arsehole, Sandy?" Were Megan's first words.
"He didn't like the idea of me moving out." The look on his face stopped her next words. "I think you're right, Megan, maybe I do need to break away."
Megan didn't comment, she just put the car in gear and drove off to their first appointment.
Three apartments later and they were tired, frustrated and heading rapidly towards depressed. None of the buildings they'd seen were a patch on their current accommodations, but they had one more to see.
"We're meeting the agent at her offices and she's going to take us to see the next one." Megan said, putting the car in gear again.
"Uh, Megan, this looks a little familiar." Blair looked up at the building the agent had just pulled up outside.
"What number apartment are we seeing?" Megan asked.
"Number 203, I think you'll both like it." The agent ushered them inside 852 Prospect and into the elevator, pressing the button for the second floor.
Number 203 was bigger than Jim's, having two bedrooms, and on the opposite side of the building so the view from the balcony was different. The décor was neutral with polished wood floors throughout.
"We'll take it." Megan said, five seconds after seeing what would be her bedroom.
"Megan, can I talk to you for a second? Excuse us." Blair dragged her out onto the balcony and closed the doors behind them. "What happened to your idea of breaking me of what you called my addiction to Jim Ellison? This isn't exactly helping."
"Tell me you don't love this apartment."
"Megan, Jim's not going to be happy about this."
"There, you see? That's what I'm talking about. Every decision you make is influenced by how you think Ellison would react. Do. You. Want. This. Apartment. Yes or no?"
It took Blair two seconds to think about it.
"Good, let's go sign the paperwork."
They were back sitting in Megan's car after signing the lease when it finally sank in with Blair.
"Ohgodohgodohgod." He ran shaking hands through his hair.
"Finally sinking in is it?" Megan ran a soothing hand along his arm. "I think I'm having withdrawal already." He raised tortured eyes to hers. "I didn't think it would be this bad."
"Three years is a long time."
"I am addicted aren't I? He's like a drug I don't want to give up."
"Well, he is easy on the eyes." Megan's comment broke the tension and they both laughed.
"There, you've finally admitted it. That's the first step, Sandy."
"Please tell me you aren't going to say anything trite like 'Today is the first day of the rest of your life', Megan."
"You'll be okay, Sandy. Baby steps."
"I guess moving downstairs isn't going to be that traumatic, it's not as if I'm moving right across town." Blair was starting to bounce in his seat.
Megan wondered if she'd been too impulsive about taking the apartment. She'd fallen in love with it though, as soon as she'd seen it, and it wasn't fair to make Blair go cold turkey on Ellison.
As she pulled out into the traffic she listened to Blair enthuse about the apartment, they had been given licence to redecorate but Blair wanted to use accessories rather than paint.
It would be okay, she mused, and she couldn't wait to see Jimbo's face in the morning. She'd seen the same signs in him that she'd seen in Blair, and she'd eat her Akubra if she had a roommate longer than a month. It was a good job she could afford the whole rent if need be.
She turned on the radio and Robert Palmer's Addicted to Love blared from the speakers. They looked at each other and the sound of their laughter filled the car.
Yes, she thought as she watched Blair singing along to the words, it would definitely be all right.
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