“What’s up?” Jim Ellison eyed his new partner with concern. Blair looked exhausted. He had dark circles under his eyes and he looked like he was fighting to keep his eyes open.
“I’m fine,” Blair replied though he didn’t sound as if he’d even convinced himself.
“You know, if you’re going to work with me I need you on your toes. So how about you can the late night partying for a while till we wrap up this new case?” Jim suggested.
That got Blair’s nodding head up in a hurry. “Partying?” he said incredulously. “You think I’ve been partying?”
Jim waved a hand at Blair’s face and shrugged. “If the face fits…”
“Yeah well, it doesn’t fit,” Blair snapped back irritably. “In fact I haven’t been out anywhere socially since I hooked up with you two weeks ago.”
“Okay, I’ll bite,” Jim said. “So why do you look like you haven’t seen your bed in a week?”
“Probably because I haven’t.” Blair shot up a hand to halt Jim’s reply. “See, there ya go jumping to conclusions again.”
“How do you know I was jumping to conclusions?” Jim asked with mock-hurt. “I didn’t even say anything.”
“I know what you were thinking.”
“Okay, so what was I thinking, Kreskin?” Jim asked archly.
“That I hadn’t seen my bed in a week because I’ve been in someone else’s *not sleeping*,” Blair replied pointedly.
Jim put a hand over his heart and tried to look hurt, though truth be told that was exactly what he’d been thinking. “You wound me, Chief, thinking I’d be thinking such baseless things about you. Okay,” he said, deciding to stop the teasing for now, “so why do you look so tired?”
“Writer’s block,” Blair replied succinctly. “You’d think,” he went on, “that having met my very own,” he dropped his voice to a whisper so none of the other detectives milling around the bullpen could overhear, “Sentinel, that my thesis would just about write itself, right? Aha, not so, my Sentinel friend, not so. I’ve been staying up till 3 or 4 AM trying just to get a jumping off point for it but it’s like I’m just totally blocked, man. The muse has fled, gone AWOL, probably to Hawaii or Australia or someplace else nice and warm.” Blair shook his head. “Then when I give up and go to bed, the ideas come flooding in and I can’t sleep so I get up and go to write them down only to have them all either dry up the minute I put pen to paper or come across sounding like the worst BS ever written.” He gave Jim a mournful look. “I’m seriously exhausted here, man.”
“Uh huh. Well, sorry, Chief, but we have a felon to go and arrest.” Jim lofted the forensic reports that had just come in that morning. “And I was right. Joey Stellano burgled the jewellery store. That fingerprint I found under the hinge of the alarm box was definitely his. Apparently his glove tore when he opened the box to disable the alarm and the idiot didn’t’ even realize he’d left a fingerprint there.” Jim grinned. “I wouldn’t have spotted it if you hadn’t coached me through using my senses on that scene either, Chief. Even Simon’s impressed and starting to think we should probably keep you around.”
“If I don’t die from lack of sleep first,” Blair said glumly.
Jim stood up and grabbed their jackets from the coatstand then tossed Blair’s to him. “I promise, help me go round up Joey and write up the reports and you can sleep as much as you want.”
“You’re missing the point, man,” Blair said as he followed Jim out of the bullpen, with a couple of uniformed cops tagging along for backup. “It’s not that I don’t want to sleep, it’s that I can’t.”
“We’ll deal with that later,” Jim replied obscurely, walking into the elevator. “Be at the loft for dinner, 6 sharp, okay?”
“Sure, why not,” Blair agreed. “It’s not like I’ll be sleeping or anything.”
“You really need to learn to duck, Chief,” Jim said, leaning to trace a gentle finger around the bruise on Blair’s forehead.
“Hey, I ducked,” Blair replied hotly. “Is it my fault I zigged when Joey zagged?”
Jim grinned. “At least it might be some comfort to know that Joey’s got as big a headache as you at the moment. Doc says you’ve both got a concussion. Difference is in your accommodations. Joey gets to stay in the tender clutches of the hospital prison ward overnight while you get to come home with me to the loft and I get the dubious pleasure of waking you up every couple of hours to make sure you don’t have any complications from banging noggins with Joey S.”
“Waking me up? Jim, man, I haven’t slept in a week. I’m existing on fumes here.”
“Well, just think how ready you’ll be to sleep once the mandatory 24 hour observation period is over,” Jim said. “Or you could stay in the hospital overnight instead…”
“Yeah, yeah, okay. Point taken.” Blair sighed. He took his clothes from Jim’s outstretched hand and started to get changed. “24 hours, okay? Not a minute more.”
“Deal.” Jim grinned and left the room to get the discharge papers organized. He was beginning to realize that life with Sandburg was going to be full of ups and downs and plenty of surprises.