Sick and Tired
If looking like a crap was a college course Blair Sandburg would have gained an A that day.
Sitting at his desk, he was the representation of the phrase "Soldiering on" in the flesh. Hair normally neatly tied back while working escaped from a leather tie in all directions, more down than up. Wire rimmed glasses perched precariously at the end of a reddened nose, while eyes shimmered with that unique mixture of drugs and exhaustion. The mouth that usually cracked a million smiles held no hint of happiness. Instead, the end of a pen was being chewed into submission as yet another essay was read, marked, then put aside.
The aside in this instance was a nearby chair. No way could another paper find a place on the over flowing desk. Used tissues lay on top of books, empty coffee cups marked the boundary of the desk edge while small items such a asprin packets and pens lay under huge drifts of paper. To the untrained eye it was chaos, but to Blair it was normal, he knew where things were, eventually.
In the last hour he'd marked twenty-seven essays, sneezed fifty times (he knew, he counted them all) used half a box of man sized tissues and cursed his partner exactly sixty times. He knew that as well, it was part of his rhythm. Pick up an essay, curse his partner, read, curse his partner, mark said essay, curse his partner. It was an easy rhythm and one that he took great delight in creating. The curses had started relatively tame but as the hour wore on he found that he was cursing Jim after every movement.
Grab an essay.
Blearily focus bloodshot eyes on paper and read what counted as wisdom from his freshman class.
Scrawl some illegible comment. Hell, they hadn't bothered to be legible, why should he?
"Unreasonable, unloosening, anal retentive cop."
Place marked essay on pile.
"Brain dead throwback."
"That's Detective Throwback to you, Chief."
Jim's sudden appearance right behind him caused Blair to jerk around, causing a cascade effect that saw his perilous pile of marked essays slither to the ground, joining the mountain of used tissues already there.
"Jesus Jim, don't do that! I never heard you come in, man."
"I sorta gathered that. Are you done cursing me and ready to go?"
"You heard that? Ah man, I'm sorry…I didn't mean it, you know."
"I hope not or I'd have to book you for verbal slander of an officer."
The look of regret that Blair wore disappeared as he looked up towards Jim. The other man stood in the doorway, seemingly amused at the situation and not at all bothered that he'd just found his partner questioning his heritage. In fact Jim seemed downright amused that he'd managed to catch Blair in such an uncharacteristic bad mood.
"Verbal slander? Somehow I don't think that one's an official offence, Jim. Not that I was doing that anyway. Man, if I was done for verbal slander I'd been thrown in jail faster than a speeding train, especially after reading these all day."
The 'these' in question slid further into disarray as Blair nudged them with his toe, scorn written all over his expressive face. He could usual cope with the drivel that some of his freshman class presented him with, but not today. There was only so much one miserable TA could take and Blair's quota was nearly full.
So here he was now, fed up, with a nasty lingering cold and cheesed off with life in general. He should have been tucked up in bed with chicken soup and a hot water bottle, not marking paper after paper of scribbled rubbish. Suppressing yet another sigh, he eased his aching body from the chair, more than ready to go home.
Aren't you forgetting something Chief?"
"I've already said sorry for that insult thing, but hey, if it makes you feel better, I'm sorry for calling you names, Jim."
"That's not what I meant, I'm talking about this mess."
Blair watched as Jim's eyes flitted from one messy surface to another, visibly suppressing the patented 'how can you work in this ' lecture. Though the detective still stood immobile at the doorway Blair could tell he was itching to pick up rubbish and straighten papers. Just as he also knew that Jim wouldn't actually come in the room and do so unless asked. Early in their relationship it was established that Blair's space was his to do what he wanted. That included his former room at the loft and obviously his office. Over the years Jim had resigned himself to chaos when he ventured into Sandburg's domain, and as long as the overflow was kept from his space he was fine. That didn't mean he didn't verbally prod Blair about the mess, a neatness fanatic like Jim could only keep so much in.
"You want me to tidy my office now?"
Blair looked amused as he watched his partner. The argument was an old one, and also one that Jim had never won. Blair would tidy what he had to, specificy put his students essays into his backpack to finish grading later then leave the rest, coffee cups, tissues and all.
"Hey, Jim, pass me some tissues would you?"
"I'll give you them as long as you promise to dispose of them the right way, not on the floor, the bed…"
"Jim I think you're way over reacting here, it was only one tissue in your pocket, it was convenient, what was I supposed to do?"
"It was used Sandburg, I don't want to put my hand, my ungloved hand at that, into your used tissue."
It took all of Blair's willpower not to laugh at the disgusted expression on Jim's face. He hadn't meant to put the used tissue in his partner's pocket, but he'd been concentrating on an article that needed submitting by the next morning. When he'd blown his nose Blair's automatic reaction had been to shove it into the pocket of his coat, completely forgetting he'd been wearing Jim's warm jacket to ward against the chill night air. Somehow he doubted that Jim would offer his jacket again at a stakeout after that night, but it was worth it, just for the expression on Jim's face when he realised what was stuck to his hand. Of course his partner hadn't seen it that way. In fact he'd protested loudly and at length just how unfunny it had been.
"I said I'm sorry man. I just forget sometimes, you know?"
"Yeah I know. Sometimes I can't believe that someone as smart as you can be so forgetful. What am I saying? I know how forgetful you can be, I've lived it for years now."
"So you know I'm not going to tidy up then, right?"
"The day you tidy this place is the day I turn in my badge Chief. So stuff all your crap in your bag and lets go already."
"Err Jim, aren't you forgetting something?"
Seeing the look of incomprehension on Jim's face Blair stopped stuffing essays into his backpack to gesture wildly towards the shelves near the door.
"My tissues, and you say I'm forgetful."
Warring between exasperation at his partner and laughter Jim pulled a handful of tissues from a box half hidden under yet another stack of papers.
"Here you go. But I meant what I said; keep the results to yourself this time."
Taking them, Blair tucked the tissues in his pocket and gave his office a last look before leaving for home. The place was a mess, he knew that. However he also knew the rubbish would still be there in the morning and right now he needed some hot coffee and a look in the bag that he'd noticed Jim pick up from the floor. The bag was small, but just large enough to carry some of his favourite take out, maybe a chicken and red pepper sandwich from his favoured deli.
"So what's in the bag Jim?"
"Just something I picked up for dinner, so come on lets go and eat, I made reservations at a very exclusive place for us. Small, intimate, guaranteed a seat, just your kind of place Chief."
Blair suppressed a smile as he locked his office; thankful for the respite Jim's teasing was giving to his poor mood.
"So what's this establishment called then? Chez 852, you're such a cheap date Jim."
Holding the bag securely Jim turned to Blair, fake shock plastered across his face.
"You've already been? Without me, I'm wounded here."
Looking at Jim's expression Blair fought between the urge to laugh or keep up his mock grumble.
"Wounded my ass, and yeah I've been, every night for years now remember? You sure have a poor memory for a cop. Maybe I should develop some tests, see if memory decreases in relation to how often Sentinels use their senses."
Jim's horrified expression was all it took for Blair to lose his composure, the frustrations of the day washed away as he wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes.
"Laugh it up, Junior." Jim made no attempt to hide his smile, just shook his head and started to walk, one hand against the small of Blair's back to get him to move. "Chez 852 is an exclusive place, the owner could bar you yet."
"But he won't," Blair said confidently. "He loves me too much for that."
"He does at that." Jim agreed, gently running his thumb across Blair's cheek and red nose before opening the door to go outside. "I'm going to get the truck, you stay here and keep warm."
Blair nodded and sneezed, watching as Jim ran across the parking lot, the take out bag clasped tightly in his hand. Stepping back, Blair leaned against the wall, still sick, still sore but getting better by the second. Jim the best medicine he could ever have.
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