Jim felt weary. The three day seminar in Seattle on new forensic investigation techniques that Simon had sent him on was interesting and probably useful. With his heightened senses, he could perform some of the tests they were talking about himself, but he was certainly glad to get home. He pulled his bag out of the passenger side of the truck and proceeded up the long flights of stairs to the loft.
He turned the knob and found it locked. He'd seen Sandburg's car outside. His partner had been unable to attend the seminar with him because of the classes he was teaching at the university. Too bad, he would have been fascinated and probably been inspired into devising all sorts of new tests for Jim's sentinel abilities. On second thought maybe Jim wouldn't tell his guide all he'd learned. So, why'd Sandburg have the door locked in the middle of the afternoon when he knew Jim was coming home? He'd half expected to see Blair at the airport. Jim cocked his head and listened, yes, Blair was home or his heartbeat was anyway.
It took Jim a moment to fish out his keys and open the door. The loft was quiet. He set his bag down and proceeded into the living room. The blinds on the doors to the balcony had been pulled leaving the room cloaked in shadows.
There was Sandburg, asleep on the sofa, covered with an afghan and his book in his lap. Jim walked over the picked up the book carefully marking the page before setting it aside. He sat on the other sofa and thought about turning on the TV. He studied his loftmate. Blair looked a little pale. Maybe he'd had a bad night and needed the rest. He seemed to have those more often when the detective wasn't home at night. He'd let Blair sleep. Jim got himself a beer and carried it up to his room to unpack. He'd have that chore out of the way. Then, he could get on with the laundry.
The laundry basket was about half empty when a quiet moan sounded downstairs. It wasn't a sleepy waking up kind of moan. It was definitely an I don't feel well sort of moan. Jim set the shirt he was hanging on the bed and padded downstairs.
Blair was awake with his arm thrown over his eyes. Jim sat down on the coffee table and lifted Blair's arm off his face and laid it across his chest.
"Oh, hi Jim. I didn't hear you come in." His voice sounded a little hoarse. He was congested.
"Hi yourself," Jim felt his guide's forehead and frowned.
"Got a fever, huh?" Blair stifled a cough. Jim nodded.
"Low or high?" Blair asked. He knew there was no point in asking how the conference was until one-track Jim was ready to talk about it.
"Low grade," Jim concluded. "You wanna tell me about it?"
Blair took a deep breath before starting his report. "It's just a cold. I didn't sleep well last night. I thought it was dinner not setting well, you know? Felt a little better this morning after I'd gotten up. So, I went to the University and by the time I finished my morning office hours, I felt so bad that I canceled my afternoon class and came home."
"Have you taken anything for it?"
Blair shook his head slowly, "No, I just wanted to lie down."
Jim rose, "Ok, let me get you a couple of Tylenol and I've got something else for you. Something I found when a bunch of us went to the mall last night."
"You went to a mall willingly?"
"Yes and I didn't zone or spike or anything. I'm a big boy now. You'd have been proud."
"I am, I'm stunned."
Jim returned with a glass of water and three pill bottles. He shook out the Tylenol and handed them to Blair. Then he held out a pill from the other bottle. It was brown dirt looking stuff in a clear capsule.
"Don't you recognize it? It's an herbal remedy," Jim grinned and produced the bottles for Blair's inspection.
"Echinacea," Jim pointed at one of the bottles. "It boosts the immune system and I'd say yours could use a little boosting. This other one is a homeopathic decongestant. I got that one for me but you sound like you need it more."
Blair stared at him wondering briefly if he could be looking at a doppleganger or perhaps an alien abduction, "The conference was that boring, huh?"
Jim rolled his eyes, "Did I do good?"
"Well, you're a little late with the echinacea. It's strictly a preventative. Put simply It locks out the infection so it can't take root. If you take it after you get the infection it has the effect of locking it in and making it worse."
"It doesn't say anything about that on the bottle," Jim frowned.
"No it doesn't, which is why it's so important to do the research before taking any herb. Now this other stuff you got, this looks good. It might really help you. All the over the counter decongestants are stimulants, which is why they set off your senses. This isn't. I think you can take this."
Jim grinned, "Good, now I want you to notice, Sandburg, that this is a pill," He shook the bottle for effect. "It's not a concoction of roots and leaves or anything like that. It's a pill."
Blair smiled tiredly and sniffed. "The trouble with modern medicines is that they all come in childproof bottles. Sick people can't break into them. If you'll be so kind as to open that bottle, I'll be your guinea pig and try it out. You should take the echinacea so you don't catch my cold."
"Yeah, that's a good idea. Here ya go," he handed Blair a pill. "You want some juice or soup or something?"
Blair chewed up the pill and let it dissolve on his tongue as he settled himself back into the nest he'd made on the sofa. "Nah, I think I wanna watch TV for awhile, then I'll think about food. Ok?"
"Sounds good, Chief." Jim settled himself on the floor with his back to the sofa and grabbed the remote. He flipped over to TVLand where all their favorite old shows were new again.
"I'm glad you're home, Jim."
"Me too, Chief, me too."
17 July 2000
Note: The information in this story about echinacea is true and can be found in a book called Nature's Pharmacy by Dr. Lynne Paige Walker and Ellen Hodgson Brown. I am sure there are other sources, this is just where I found the info in writing after being warned about it by other people.
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