Commiseration Love Company

by Ceryndip

Summary: Sick Blair, sick Jim, a meddling Captain, an iced-in ex-wife and a desperate need for Jell-O and straws.

Note for folks living in Jell-O deprived countries: Jell-O is a brand name of a gelatin dessert. It comes in lots of colors and flavors. It is a powder that you mix with water and refrigerate until solid. You can mold it and put fruit in it or lots of stuff. You can also just eat it.

Blair sniffed and blew his nose again.

"You sure you're ok, Chief?"

"Yeah, it's just a cold, I'll be fine."

Jim Ellison's hand shot across the table, his palm resting a moment against the other man's forehead before it was swatted away.

"I said it was just a cold, Jim. I'll be fine. I'll wear two pairs of socks and a heavier coat tonight."

"Negative, Chief. You're staying home and taking care of yourself. I don't take people with fevers on stakeout. It's not safe."

"Jim, you need me there. What if you--"

"This is not a solo stake out, Blair, half the department's gonna be there including Simon. Remember? I'll be fine." Jim rose and pulled on his jacket, "You take it easy and go to bed. I might really need you tomorrow and if you want to keep your strength up you'll eat some of the food you've been pushing around that plate."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Blair replied as he raised his fork to his mouth.

Jim quietly opened the door to the loft. It was late, earlier than he was expecting to get in but still late. He frowned to see dinner dishes still on the table. Blair had eaten maybe a third of his meal.

"Not enough to keep a fly healthy," the sentinel muttered under his breath.

The loft was lit by the flickering light of the television. Enough light to see without trying that Jim's loftmate was on the sofa, buried under a blanket. Even in the dim light Jim could see that Blair was paler than before he'd left. Dark circles had formed beneath his eyes.

Jim reached down and felt the forehead beneath the brown curls, confirming the rising fever. Blair stirred beneath his hand and opened bleary eyes with a low moan.

"Jim?" Blair didn't raise his head.

The tall man squatted next to the sofa to make conversation less awkward.

"Did you get him?"

"Yeah, no problem, nice and easy," Jim smiled wryly at the recollection. "Fifteen cops with their guns on you when you step outside your building, you tend to cooperate."

"I see."

"How are you doing? You don't look so good."

Blair's hand moved to his stomach. "Let's just say that dinner didn't stay put where it was supposed to."

"Sorry, Chief." Jim tried to commiserate with his loftmate noting the crooked angle in which his body was lying against the arm of the sofa. "Wouldn't you be more comfortable in your own bed?"

"Actually, I kinda like it here. I feel better if I can prop up some." He wiped his nose with a wadded up tissue before it could drip.

"We've got extra pillows in the closet, I'll get a couple of them for you, come on. You'll sleep better in your own bed"

Wearily Blair climbed off the sofa and wandered into his room. Jim followed fluffing the pillows.

"Thanks," Blair eased himself back against them. Jim laid an extra blanket across the foot of the bed.


The sentinel paused in the doorway.

"I didn't clean up dinner."

"I know. I'll take care of it. Get some rest."

Jim flicked off the light but left one of the French doors open.

Jim put the last dish in the drainer as he heard a frantic movement behind him. Then, the unmistakable sounds of someone being very sick in the bathroom. He opened the drain and rinsed the sink giving his friend a moment before quietly opening the door.

"Blair? You ok?"

"No." Blair sat miserably on the floor leaning against the wall opposite the commode forcing himself to take slow, deep breaths.

Jim handed him a cup of water from the sink. Blair rinsed out his mouth before taking a couple of hesitant sips.

A dampened wash cloth appeared and Blair wiped his face and neck before laying it on his forehead. "That's better."

"You want me to take you to the doctor tomorrow?" Jim asked.

"No, he'll just say it has to run it's course and suffer through it. Besides, you put me in that truck and I'll throw up, guaranteed." A chill passed through him.

"You want some help back to bed?"

"I think I can manage if you get me up off the floor." Blair held out his arm for his friend to pull him up.

Jim followed his unsteady partner as far as the French doors and made sure he got under the covers. "I'm gonna turn in now. Call me if you need anything."

"Ok, thanks Jim."

Jim sat at the table reading the paper and finishing his breakfast. Blair had been asleep when he got up. Well, he'd been dosing at least. Jim wasn't sure that his loft mate had gotten any sleep. He'd made two more visits to the bathroom during the night. Jim hadn't gotten up but he had listened in to make sure Blair was ok.

He heard movement in the bedroom and looked up to see a haggard, pale Blair, pillow under his arm, dragging his blanket behind him like Linus, stagger out and collapse on the sofa.

Jim didn't ask him how he was doing, he already knew, "You wanna try some toast, Chief? I know you don't want to but you should probably try to get something into your stomach.

"I know but not now, maybe later, ok? Would you bring me the phone? I've gotta call in and cancel my class."

After handing Blair the phone, Jim returned to the kitchen and pulled a small tray out of a cupboard. He filled a glass with ice and poured a can of Sprite over it. Then, he added a package of crackers and a bottle of Tylenol. He retrieved the thermometer from the bathroom as Blair finished his call.

"Let's take your temperature, Chief. See how you're really doing."

"It's not going to be good. I'm cold, I'm hot, I'm cold, I'm hot."

"Hush." Jim inserted the thermometer into his guide's mouth and slapped Blair's hand away as he tried to pull it out. "Don't touch." He warned as Blair rolled his eyes.

Jim brought the tray in and set it all down on the coffee table. Then, he pulled the table a few inches closer to the sofa so that it would be an easy reach.

The thermometer beeped and Jim took it out, "102." He shook two Tylenol out of the bottle and handed them to Blair with the soft drink.

"Here, take these and you should keep drinking, so you don't dehydrate."

"Do we have a straw?"

"I don't think so, sorry." Jim added the TV remote to the tray.


"I'll leave the phone on the tray, in case you need to call. I'll be at the station cleaning up paperwork on last night most of the day."

"Ok, thanks." Blair rolled over and buried himself in the sofa.

Jim didn't usually come home for lunch but getting out of the station and away from the reports sounded good and checking on Blair couldn't hurt. He walked into the loft to find the sofa empty and his partner again worshipping the porcelain shrine.

As he waited for Blair to emerge he refilled his glass with another can of Sprite and was pleased to see that Blair had tried a few of the crackers. The detective made a sandwich for himself.

Jim heard the faucet on the sink turn off and Blair came wandering out with a wet cloth on his face. Jim followed him to the sofa and pushed the tray over before sitting on the coffee table. Blair was flushed, sweating and still shivering with chills as he huddled again under the blanket.

"I think maybe the fever's trying to break. Man, this gets warm fast." He handed Jim the cloth. Jim took it into the kitchen and filled a bowl half full of cold water. He added the bowl to the tray and wrung the cloth out before handing it back to Blair.

"Thanks, I feel awful." Blair folded the cloth and plopped it on his forehead. "How's the paperwork?"

"Getting there." Jim pulled a tissue from the box on the floor by the sofa and blew his nose. "I gotta get back. You want me to pick up some soup on the way home?"

"I'll try, I don't guarantee it'll stay down long though. Hey, you're not getting sick are you? 'Cause if you are we are in trouble. We're gonna need a nurse or something."

"Relax Chief. I just blew my nose. It's cold outside. Front came through a little while ago, might even be snow tonight."

"Oh," Blair glanced out the doors to the balcony noting the overcast sky.

"You sure you don't want to go to the doctor or the clinic on campus?"

Blair lay back on the sofa and smiled weakly at his friend. "I'll be ok, Jim. Go back to work."

On the way back to the station, Jim called the campus medicenter at Rainier.

"My roommate is one of the graduate students there. He's been sick since yesterday; fever, chills, can't keep anything down---"

Jim paused and listened to the nurse before replying, "not since last night." Jim nodded his head agreeing even though the person on the other end of the phone couldn't see him. "Yeah, that's exactly what he's got. Is there anything that we can do for him?....I see, plenty of liquids, lots of rest, stay inside where it's warm. Well, he's got all that. No, no cough really, he's a little congested, nose is running but it doesn't seem to be in his chest, just his head and stomach.....Yes, I'll keep an eye on him, I just wanted to make sure that there wasn't anything else we should be doing. How long is this virus supposed to last? 3-4 days, ok that's what I needed to know. Thanks."

Jim sighed and tossed the phone into the seat, "Poor kid."

Blair faithfully tried the soup. The first couple of bites felt really good going down. They warmed his insides all the way down but by the fourth or fifth spoonful of broth his stomach rebelled and off the bathroom he bolted.

Jim stopped to blow his nose again before removing Blair's bowl. He wished he could find something that would stay down.

Blair returned to the sofa. He lay on his side, holding his stomach and staring at the TV. A picture of abject misery. Jim finished his own bowl of soup and had a second piece of bread before cleaning up the dishes. He felt drained. The paperwork must really have taken it out of him. Jim wasn't used to doing it all on his own anymore. He usually had Blair there to make it bearable and help with the typing. There were still a few loose ends to tie up but the majority of the paper trail was ready to transfer to the D.A.'s office. The longer you chase a guy, the longer the reports have to be. Jim yawned and absently rubbed his shoulder. It felt stiff.

"I think I'll turn in, Chief. You gonna stay up?"

"Yeah, I feel too nauseous to sleep, right now."

"Okay, keep the volume down."

Blair nodded and began channel flipping.

Blair was woken by something. He looked around. By the light coming in from the balcony, the sun must be rising. He rolled off the sofa at the sound of retching and wandered to the open bathroom door. He leaned against the frame and slid down to sit on the floor against it.

"Man, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for you to get this, too."

Jim shook his head, "If you're gonna get it, you get it. It's one of those things. Not your fault.

Blair nodded his agreement as his friend heaved again. "I'll call you in sick."

Blair crawled on his hands and knees around the corner to the kitchen and used the support to stand enough to reach the phone. Then, he slid back down the support and rolled over onto his back on the floor as he dialed.

"Hi Simon. Jim's not coming in."

"Why not?"

"He's currently barfing his guts up. We've both got it now."

"Ok, thanks for calling in. I think half the department's out with it. You guys take it easy."


"Yes, Sandburg?"

"We need some stuff."


"Yeah, you know, supplies."

"So, go to the store."

"Can't, neither one of us can get that far from the bathroom. We'd have to stop every half block and throw up. Look, Simon, it's plague central here, I know that. You don't have to come in, just leave the bag by the door and knock to let us know it 's there. We'll give you two minutes to clear the building before we open the door and let all our germs out."

Captain Banks had to smile. He couldn't help himself. "Ok, Sandburg, what do you need?"

Blair held the phone in one hand and rubbed his sore stomach with the other as he mentally ran the list, "Crackers, wheat's best. Sprite, better have a loaf of bread..."


"Huh?" Blair raised his head to see his partner had made it to the bathroom doorway. He was on the floor resting against the door frame, head back, eyes closed.

"Jell-O," Jim repeated.

Blair turned back to the phone, "Jim wants Jell-O." He turned back to Jim, "Any particular flavor?"


"Jim wants red Jell-O and tissues, we need tissues. Get the really soft kind for sore red noses."

"Is that all?"

"Yeah, I think so."

"Ok, I'll have someone pick it up and if no one's available. I'll do it when I get off."

"Thanks Simon."

"Sure, sure, you get back to bed."

"As soon as I've gathered enough strength to get there. Bye." Blair climbed back up the support to hang up the phone. He contemplated another run to the bathroom but decided that his stomach distress wasn't urgent enough yet. He leaned back against the support and surveyed the loft. The floor hadn't tilted yet so maybe he could handle being up for just a little bit.

Blair turned into the kitchen as Jim groped his way back to the living room. The younger man shakily put the last couple cans of sprite into the refrigerator. Who knew how long that partial 12 pack had been sitting there waiting for someone to get sick. Jim groaned in relief as he dropped onto the sofa and haphazardly threw Blair's blanket over his upper body to stop his chills.

Blair shuffled his feet into the living room and handed Jim a glass. The older man held the glass a moment contemplating it. "I understand why you asked for a straw. Is Simon gonna bring any?"

"No, I didn't ask for that."

"Damn." He took a sip. Blair wandered into his room and came back with another blanket, he sat down on the other sofa. "Look, if I'm relegated to the other sofa that's fine. I can do that, but you gotta share the pillows."

Jim's lips turned up slightly in a smile, "Ok, Chief. Here ya go." He pulled two of the four pillows out from behind him and tossed them toward Blair.

"How long have you had this, Chief?" Jim asked carefully setting the glass down on the table.

"An eternity, but it's only been 2 days."

"Is it getting any better?"

Blair considered, "I think it's getting longer between violent incidents in the bathroom. I still feel awful."

"Chief, if I had known you were this bad off, I'd have taken better care of you."

Blair smiled and picked up a dry wash cloth from the table. He dipped it into the bowl of water, still cool from the night before. The cloth landed on Jim's face with a plop.

"Here put this on your face. It'll help." Blair wrung out the cloth he'd been using and curled up on his sofa with it pulling his blanket over himself and arranging one pillow beneath him and hugging the other. He curled up against the armrest and snuggled under the blanket.

Both men were in the same positions when the knock at the door woke them. Blair glanced at the clock, 1pm. Jim groaned. Blair rolled out of the sofa and staggered to the door.


"It's me Sandburg. Open up."

Blair undid the locks and turned the knob. He cracked the door. "You sure you wanna come in?"

"Well, I don't want to spend my lunch hour standing in the hall. I'll take my chances. I had this flu a month ago, Remember? I'm probably immune." He pushed closed the door behind himself and sat the bags in the kitchen.

Jim waved weakly from the living room. Banks shook his head, "You two are really pathetic."

"Thanks a lot, Simon. Why don't you go back to work now," Jim responded dryly.

"I see you revert back to crabby Ellison when you get sick."

"Yeah, I'm a real pal. Did you get Jell-O?"

"Three boxes for a dollar. I trust you are capable of making it?"

"I'll figure it out, thanks."

Blair paid Simon and tried to help him put away the things he'd brought but the room kept tilting on him. Simon took a steadying hold on his arm and led him toward the sofas.

"I think you need to lay down, Sandburg."

"Yeah, maybe so." Blair crawled back under his blanket.

Simon surveyed the two men on the sofas, "Is there anything else you two need?"

They both shook their heads.

"I know it doesn't feel like it now but it does get better eventually."

"Promise?" Jim asked."

"Yeah, I'll see you two at the station in a couple of days. Take it easy and let me know if you need anything."

"Thanks Simon."

"Plummer, what do you know about making Jell-O?"

"Oh no, you are not going to ask me to take care of my ex, emphasis on the ex, husband.

"No. I wouldn't suggest...Look, Carolyn, I was over there at lunch. Ellison and Sandburg were both pathetic. Jim barely even acknowledged my existence. The weather's looking pretty bad. The city's about to be iced in for the next day or two. I'm stuck here, you get to go home. I thought you might check on them, just stop in for a moment. It is on your way home. I took them the Jell-O but I didn't stay to make it."

"And you're feeling guilty about it. So, you thought you'd share the guilt. At least I know it's not Jim's idea. He'd die before asking me to take care of him. He knows better. Oh, I don't believe I'm even contemplating this! Thanks Simon. Thanks a lot."

She slammed his door on the way out.

"Hey, Chief, look it's sleeting."

They'd hung a blanket over all but one set of doors earlier in the day agreeing that the light hurt their eyes. Blair rolled over and squinted out the door. He could see the little chunks of ice bouncing as they hit the balcony.

"It looks cold out there," Blair commented.

There was a knock at the door. Jim and Blair looked at each other to see who would move first, neither did. They heard a key in the lock.

Jim raised up and looked at Blair a stricken expression on his face, "No, it couldn't be."

The door opened and Carolyn walked in.

"It is."

"Your ex-wife has a key to your place?" Blair asked incredulous.

Jim shrugged, "She already took everything, I never thought she'd come back."

"I haven't. You two worried Simon and he coerced me into stopping by on my way home. He didn't think you were capable of making your own Jell-O." She opened the fridge, "And you aren't." She closed it and took off her coat. "So, I'll make the Jell-O and then I'm gone. You understand?"

"Crystal clear. Thanks," Jim replied.

When Carolyn emerged from the kitchen, Blair was asleep and Jim was flipping channels.

"Ok, your Jell-O is chilling down."

Jim nodded as she sat on the edge of the sofa, "You really do look terrible."


She smiled and felt his forehead, "You're awfully warm." She picked up the thermometer from the table and stuck it in his mouth. They watched TV in silence as they waited for the beep. "A little over 101," she replied to his raised eyebrow. Carolyn sighed and glanced over at Sandburg. "Are you two going to be alright here on your own?"

"Yes, dear, we'll be fine." Jim tapped her arm, "Thanks for the Jell-O. If you're wanting to get home you'd better go. It's not getting any better out there."

"It's not is it?" She laid her palm against his cheek, "Call me if you need anything."

Jim nodded, "Thanks."

Blair stirred restlessly.

"Uh oh," Jim said aloud.

"Huh? What?" Blair asked.

"I think Carolyn stayed too long."

"What do you mean?"

"She can't get out of the parking lot. It's iced over. She just turned the car off. She's coming back up. Look out, Incoming."

Carolyn almost didn't slam the door when she reentered the loft. She stopped inside the door and stared at the two men who were staring at her. Then she slowly hung up her coat and took off her boots before flopping into the chair by the balcony doors.

"Not that I want to be stuck here with you two sickos but I can't get enough traction to get the car turned around. So, it looks like I'm stuck anyway." She sighed resigned to her fate, "You have food for non-sick people?"

Jim pointed toward the kitchen, "Help yourself."

After eating her sandwich in fuming silence in the kitchen while Jim and Blair channel flipped, Carolyn headed upstairs.

"What's she doing?" Jim asked.

"You're the one with the heightened senses, man. You tell me," Blair whispered back.

Jim stared at the railing above and listened to the feminine muttering, "I know he's got them here somewhere."

"Well," Blair asked.

Jim closed his eyes a moment, "I think she's digging around in my clothes. Using my senses takes energy I don't have left."

"Ah ha," drifted down from Jim's room as Carolyn appeared with clothes draped over one arm and a trash can in the other. She set the trash can between them on the floor.

"What's that for?" Blair asked.

"That's in case either of you Typhoid Mary's feel the need to throw up while I'm taking a shower."

"Oh, thanks."

"Sure," she disappeared down the hall and into the bathroom.

"Is she gonna wear your blue sweat suit?"

"Yeah, I should have known that's what she was looking for. I should have let her have it in the divorce but she was taking everything else. So, I kept custody of my sweats."

"I thought it was an amicable divorce?" Blair wondered.

"It was....mostly."

"Jim, do you know what's in Jell-O, man?"

"Yeah and I don't want to talk about it while I'm eating it. This stuff will stay down when nothing else does. Try some." Jim threw a small Tupperware container at Blair, "Now, be quiet, I want to watch the movie."

Jim had found an old WWII movie about a company of marines pinned down on an island in the Pacific. They were all three watching and taking bets on which characters would survive each peril as it happened. Carolyn sat on the floor in Jim's blue sweat suit with her back to the sofa.

Blair hadn't eaten anything since he'd tried dry toast that morning. Food thoughts of any kind turned his stomach but he knew he should try to keep something down. He opened the container. It didn't smell bad. In fact, it smelled kind of good. He spooned out a tiny bite and let it dissolve on his tongue. He tried another bite and another. In a few spoonfuls he'd emptied the little cup. His stomach was ok with it. With relief Blair settled down to finish the movie but his stomach was really only thinking it over.

Blair tried to walk normally out of the bathroom but the floor kept changing the direction of it's tilt without warning. He bumped into the wall and paused, trying to find his balance.

Carolyn grasped his arm as he slid slowly down the wall. She knelt beside him and felt his forehead, "Blair? You ok?"

"Yeah, just a little dizzy. Be ok after I rest a minute."

She rose and went into the bathroom returning with a damp washcloth. She laid it on Blair's forehead.

"It's not fair you know."

"What isn't?" She asked.

"Jim can keep the Jell-O down, not fair."

Carolyn smiled at him and slid her arm behind his back. "You want to go to the sofa or your bed?"

"I wanna see how the movie ends."

"Ok, the sofa it is," she lifted him to his feet as he held the washcloth in place. Carolyn guided him back to the living room. Blair fell back into the sofa and curled around his aching stomach.

Carolyn covered him with a blanket and then picked up his glass, "I'll put some more ice in this."

Jim watched the whole scene with a growing scowl on his face. When Carolyn was safely out of earshot in the kitchen he whispered, "How come she's so nice to you, Chief?"

"She's not my ex wife?" Blair guessed.

Carolyn returned and handed Blair a glass that now sported a little red bendable straw in it.

"A straw! Where'd you get that?" Blair asked.

"I left a box of them in the top cupboard."

Jim looked at his glass pathetically, "Can I have a straw?"

She rolled her eyes and sighed, "You are so pitiful."

"Yes, I am," he freely admitted. "Can I have a straw, too?" He put on his best pathetic puppy face, the one that Blair was always using on him.

Carolyn shook her head and plunked the second straw she'd brought into his glass. She reached up and felt his forehead again, "You're getting warmer. Good, maybe it'll break soon."

The movie ended at 10:05 and Carolyn climbed off the floor and turned to face her ex.

"I hope you're comfortable because you're sleeping on that sofa. I'm sleeping in my old bed, alone."

"Good," Jim replied, "Because I was planning on being chivalrous and staying down here anyway. I wouldn't want to disappoint you."

Carolyn made her way upstairs.

Blair raised his head and gave Jim a questioning look. "You two divorced because you drove each other crazy, right?"

"The sofa's closer to the bathroom, Sandburg and I don't feel like stairs."

"Right," Blair accepted that logic without question at the moment. "I'm going to my bed where I can stretch out."

Jim watched him continue to lay where he was, "You're not moving."

"I'm gathering my strength."

"Oh, is that what you call it?" Jim rolled over onto his side facing the back of the couch, "Get the light will you?"

Blair sat up and turned off the light.

"Goodnight, Blair."

"Night," Blair hauled himself up and staggered toward the open French doors.

"Goodnight Carolyn!" Jim called loudly.

She mumbled something from the loft. Blair didn't turn around but he knew that Jim was smiling.

Blair had been in bed perhaps an hour when he heard Jim in the bathroom. He chuckled.

"The Jell-O strikes back!" Blair hollered and waited for Jim to come by the French doors so he could rub it in some more but his sentinel never came.

Concerned, Blair made his way on shaky legs to the bathroom. He found Jim laying on the floor. Now alarmed, Blair dropped to the floor beside him.

"Jim? Are you alright?"

"I'm fine, Chief, relax."

"Then why are you sleeping on the floor?" Blair asked.

"It's closer to the toilet and it's cool."

Blair thought he understood. He leaned back against the wall and noticed that Jim had that look on his face meaning he was mildly zoning. He couldn't believe that he hadn't even thought to ask. Some great guide he was being today.

Blair squeezed Jim's shoulder, "What is this fever doing to your senses, man?"

Jim sighed and continued to stare at the ceiling. "You ever see stars, Chief? Not the kind in the sky. The kind when you get hit on the head?"

"Yeah," Blair was vaguely familiar with the concept.

"You ever just watch them float around the room? Some of them move faster than others and they all seem to stay in a group like a flock of geese."

"Okay, I think you need to go back to the sofa now. Can you make it or should I call Carolyn. I'm too weak to help you."

"No, don't call her. She gets cranky when you wake her up."

"Jim, she wasn't cranky all evening. Frustrated at being stuck here but not cranky."

"She wasn't cranky with you. Just leave me here. I'll be fine."

Blair patted Jim's shoulder, "I have an idea." Blair opened the cupboard and pulled out a handful of towels. He slid two of them under Jim's head and covered him with two more.

"Thanks, Chief."

Blair leaned back against the wall again. He couldn't think through the fog, "Man, it's hot in here. I'm sweating."

"Your fever's breaking, "Jim replied, "You should go back to bed and lie down."

"Yeah, ok." Blair heaved himself to his feet using the wall for support. He paused in the doorway. "You're ok in here?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Night, Chief."

"Hey, Blair. You in there?"

Blair opened his eyes to see Carolyn sitting on his bed, a concerned expression on her face.

"Hey, Sleepyhead, it's after lunch, you were worrying me."

"After lunch? Tomorrow?"

She nodded, "Today. You slept round the clock and then some. You feeling better?"

Blair took stock of himself, "I think so. I think my stomach feels better."

"Good, sun's out. I think I can make it home now, if I can get out of my parking space." She hesitated before continuing, "Blair, what were all the towels doing on the bathroom floor? Jim won't tell me."

Blair smiled, "I don't remember. I remember something about the bathroom but I was pretty out of it." He covered and reached over to take her hand, "Thanks for getting iced in with us. I'm glad you were here."

She whispered, "I didn't mind, really but, if you ever tell Jim that, I'll have to hurt you."

Blair smiled a weak smile, "He's not that bad."

"I know. He's a good man. He always has been but he's been a better man since you came around. You've improved his disposition, Junior, and the whole department thanks you for it."

"You're not that bad either."

She blushed, "Thanks. There's some broth warmed on the stove. Try some. I bet it'll stay down now."

"Thank you."

"You bet." She leaned down and kissed his forehead, "Your fever's down. It must have broke during the night. You take it easy. Call Simon if you need anything. He'll be thrilled to hear from you."

Blair chuckled, "Ok."

"I goaded Jim into being up and around some this morning. So make him fetch and carry for you if you don't feel up to it, alright?"

"I will," Blair promised.

Blair heard Carolyn and Jim exchange a few more words but he couldn't hear more than mumbling from either of them before he heard the door shut. He stretched luxuriously and noted that most of the achiness was gone. He felt like taking a shower and slowly eased himself up and out of the bed. He was pleased when the floor remained stable beneath his feet and made his way into the bathroom.

Blair slipped into a clean pair of sweats and sweatshirt noting that his sheets had been changed while he was in the shower. Somehow he didn't think that the old Jim would've done that from the stories he'd heard.

Blair leaned against the door frame, "You heard everything she said in here didn't you?"

"No, I didn't hear a thing, Sandburg," but his smile told otherwise.

Blair shook his finger, "Eavesdropping on a private conversation between--," Blair recognized the angle of Jim's head. "What are you listening to?"

"Shhh. Carolyn's car. It's got a noisy fan belt, easy to recognize. She pulled out of the parking lot a couple of minutes ago." Jim smiled again, "You should have heard some of the language she used trying to scrape the ice off her windshield."

"Are the roads still bad?" Blair moved up and placed a hand on Jim's shoulder blade.

"Parking lot was pretty dicey. Prospect's a little better but it's slow going. There, she just turned onto main street. There's enough traffic that it's pretty well thawed. she'll make it ok now."

"Good." Blair sat down on the sofa. Jim lingered a moment at the balcony door and then joined him.

"Thanks for covering for me, Chief. If she'd found out I slept on the bathroom floor, I'd never hear the end of it."

"You're welcome." Blair glanced out at the doors, "Hey, Jack Frost's been here." The doors were all layered with intricately etched ice around the edges.

"He does the finest artwork. You feel up to some chicken soup, Chief?"

Blair nodded, "I think I even feel up to coming to the table to eat it."

Simon called a couple of hours later and woke them both from sound naps to ask if they needed anything as he was finally on the way home.

"No, Simon, I think we're on the mend here. Might even make it in for part of the day tomorrow. How's it been?....You think maybe folks are finally learning to stay in during these things, huh?...Carolyn? Yeah she was here...Listen Simon, thanks for sending her. I know she wasn't happy about getting iced in here with us...Uh, yeah she did. She was a big help when we needed it but she's probably not going to be too happy with you for getting her trapped here. You better watch your back for a few days. The lady can hold a grudge. Yeah, Thanks Simon."

Jim set the phone back in it's base and noticed that Blair was smiling.


"I think you lost custody of the blue sweat suit. She was wearing it when she left."

"Think I should charge her with kidnapping?"

30 December 1999

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