It's Just A Cold

by Ceryndip

An answer to the Thankgiving story challenge to include the following in a story:
Fall leaves
a cannonball
truck accident
emu
baked turkey
cranberry sauce
Megan in pink coat and boots
Blair with a cold
zuccini pie
a chase scene

Jim let the phone ring. No answer.

"Kid not answering the phone?" Joel asked.

"He's been taking a lot of hot showers since he caught this cold. The steam loosens the congestion or something like that. Probably can't hear the phone," Jim hung up and sighed.

"Try again in a little while, he'll answer."

"Yeah, thank's Joel."

Megan and Rafe walked into the bullpen and hung up their coats. Her damp pink fur next to his still dripping dark London Fog made a very mismatched pair on the coat rack. Jim rose and walked over to Rafe's desk.

"Still raining," he observed.

"Coming down in buckets. I'm going to go put our evidence in lockup and then get some hot coffee. You want some, Megan?"

"Please."

"That's a cannonball, Rafe," Jim commented.

Brown chimed in, "He's observant today, huh? That's an assault weapon."

Megan chuckled, "A couple of those civil war reinactors decided to have a go at it with the real thing." She pulled off a pink boot and shook the water from it into the trashcan. "But did they have to do it in the middle of a field that's trying to become a lake?"

"There is no dry place out there, if you haven't noticed."

"I hadn't noticed, thanks H."

"Listen, Connor," Jim began awkwardly, "I don't want you to feel like we're pushing you off on other people but-"

"But Sandy's sick. I do understand, Jim. Joel will take good care of me tomorrow. You can have me over for leftovers when Sandy's feeling better. Just save me some zuccini pie."

"Not a problem, Connor, not a problem," Jim continued under his breath, "You can have all my share."

He turned back to his desk and after flipping through the case folder he was working on, he picked up the phone and dialed the loft again. No answer.

He hung up the phone and pondered it's silence. "He's just got a cold, he's fine." Jim picked up the folder again but couldn't concentrate on it. Images of his partner fallling and hitting his head, lying unconscious sprawled over the side of the bathtub kept flashing through his mind. He tossed the folder onto the desk and pushed himself up.

Jim Ellison rapped twice and opened his captain's door. "Simon, do you need the Smith-Davison report today?"

Simon considered, "No, that can wait until Monday."

"I'm going to head home then."

"Early? On the day before a major holiday? That's not like you, Jim."

"Sandburg's not answering the phone."

Simon's frown matched his detective's, "I know he's home sick but it's just a cold isn't it?"

"Yes, but he's not answering the phone."

"It's not like you don't ever take comp time for the overtime you put in. Ok, go home and take care of the kid."

"Thanks, Simon."

"Call me if it's anything I should know."

Jim smiled, "Will do."

The rain turned to a heavy mist as Jim drove across town. He tried not to speed too much in his haste to get home. He couldn't rid himself of the image of Blair lying unconscious on the floor. Blair was fine, it was just a cold. There had to be a reasonable explanation for his not answering the telephone. Maybe the phone was out, downed lines or something. It wasn't like Blair not to answer the phone. Jim reached for the cell phone on the seat beside him as he pulled up to a stop sign intending to try the loft again. His attention was caught by a couple of squad cars, lights flashing, in the next block. Sandburg had a cold, the sentinel had to protect his tribe.

Jim eased the truck in beside the squads and climbed out. A group of a dozen or more people were fanned out in the wooded area of one of the larger city parks.

"Detective Ellison! Thanks for stopping, we'll take all the help we can get."

The officer was young, Jim recognized him as new to the force. "What's going on?"

The young man rolled his eyes, "There's an emu on the loose."

"Emu?"

"Yeah, escaped from somebodies back yard."

"Do we let people keep emu's in the backyard in Cascade?" Jim asked.

The officer shrugged, "I don't know but it's escaped and the sooner we help them catch it, the sooner we get back in out of this weather."

"Right." Jim moved forward and sniffed the air gently. He wasn't sure what a wet emu smelled like but he bet that the strange fowl odor he was detecting was probably it. He followed the scent into the trees. It wasn't far away.

The officer followed motioning others to follow him. If Ellison's reputation was true, they'd have this bird back on it's leash in no time.

The scent was so strong, Jim had to dial down his sense of smell. It had to be close. He cautiously rounded a large bush and found himself face to beak with the biggest emu he'd ever seen, not that he'd ever seen one this close before. It reared back as if to peck him. The sentinel jerked his body back to avoid being pecked. His shoe slipped on the mud and down he went into a pile of muddy, wet fall leaves. The emu took off deeper into the woods. The following pursuers giving chase.

"Are you alright, sir?" The young officer offered the detective a hand up.

"Don't just stand here, they went that-a-way." Jim indicated the direction with his thumb.

"Oh, yes sir!"

The sentinel watched until Cascade's finest were completely out of sight. Then, he shook off as many of the dirty leaves as he could and headed back toward the truck.

"I am a detective, not animal control. This is not my job. That was not an emu, that was an ostrich. Emu's are not that big..." Jim paused his mumbling when he reached the truck. He stood and stared. The side of the bed had been obviously bashed in. Someone had hit Jim's truck. There was red paint all along the dented area and the rear tire was flat.

"Great," Jim looked back toward the woods. He'd have to get an accident report written for the insurance company and the officers were no where in sight. He sighed and walked over to one of the squad cars. He checked the driver's door, locked. He checked the other car, not locked. Jim took out the officer's accident report book and began filling out the form. He signed the bottom of the form and left the rest blank for the officer to finish.

Jim grabbed his cell phone and tried the loft again, still no answer and he'd let it ring. "It's gotta be the phone lines, gotta be. he's fine." He threw the phone back onto the seat and grabbed the jack out from behind the seat as it began to rain again.

He was just tightening the lug nuts as the officers returned. Jim looked up in time to see the renegade emu being led back home, a rope harness firmly tied around it's body.

"Detective, we thought you'd gone home?"

"I tried."

An older officer walked up, "Hey Jim, Captain Banks is never going to believe you were the victim of a hit and run."

Jim sighed and climbed to his feet shaking off the rain, "Well, that's what happened Bobby. I already wrote it up in your book, just sign it and stick my copy in my box at the station. I've gotta get home." He tossed the jack on the floorboard and climbed in.

"Ok, will do. Thanks Jim, drive careful and thanks for your help with the bird."

Jim nodded and dialed the loft again as he pulled back into the traffic. "It's just a cold, Ellison. There's a perfectly logical explanation for why Sandburg's not answering the phone. There's sure better be." Finally giving in to temptation, Jim flipped down his visor and turned on the flashing lights as he stepped harder on the accelerator.

He flipped the lights off as he turned into the parking place. The elevator took too long to come down so he took the stairs, two at a time. He fumbled the door locks in his haste and burst into the calm, peaceful loft.

The rain pattered quietly against the balcony doors. The television played softly and there on the sofa sleeping soundly was Sandburg. He was covered with a soft, fleece blanket and propped up against the pillows just like Jim had left him this morning.

The sentinel turned up the dials and did a sensory sweep of his partner; low grade fever, congestion, breathing through his mouth, wheezing. He picked up the damp washcloth from the floor. It had turned room temperature. So, obviously he'd been sleeping awhile. Cracker crumbs and a half full glass of Sprite sat on the coffee table.

Jim breathed a deep sigh of relief, Sandburg's fine, it's just a cold. He was glad his roommate was asleep because he felt foolish for rushing in like he had. But why hadn't Blair answered the phone? Jim pulled off his wet shoes and socks before heading upstairs for dry clothes and then into the bathroom to clean up. He was covered in mud and wet to the bone. He stood in the shower and let the hot water penetrate his cold skin. He'd been so concerned about getting home, he hadn't noticed how chilled he'd gotten changing that tire in the rain. Careful, Ellison, you'll end up sick because you didn't pay enough attention to the dials.

He changed into a dry sweat suit and headed into the kitchen to begin preparations for the small Thanksgiving meal tomorrow. He tried to work quietly as he stuffed the turkey for baking and prepared the cranberry sauce. No amount of noise, it seemed, would disturb Blair's sleep. It was just as well, he hadn't been sleeping well. His coughing had been keeping them both up. He needed all the rest he could get.

"You're home early," Blair croaked from the sofa.

Jim wiped his hands and sat on the coffee table, "I do have this whole meal to prepare by myself, how are you feeling?"

"Huh?" Blair looked confused then realization dawned, "Oh, let me take these out." He pulled Jim's white noise earplugs out of his ears and turned them off before handing them to his sentinel. "That's better, now, what did you ask me?"

Jim was stunned. He stared at the earplugs in his open hand, "That's why you didn't answer the phone."

Blair sighed and laid back against the pillows again, "Yeah, we've acquired new neighbors downstairs today. You know, I've been keeping us both up half the night. I needed some real sleep. Everytime I'd just about drop off, they'd drop something or scrape something across the floor or hollar at each other. I couldn't sleep so this sounded like the best solution."

Jim nodded silently, still processing.

"Jim? Why'd you call me?"

Seeing the faint blush in his sentinel's cheeks, Blair guessed, "You checking up on me?"

This time Jim nodded, "Yeah."

"And you got worried when I didn't answer and you came home. Jim, it's just a cold. I feel crappy but it's just a cold."

"I know, I kept telling myself that."

"But you still worried about me. That's really nice, man. Definitly something to be thankful for. Thank you."

End

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