Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Everyday Life Series

Burton Awards 2001 NomineeSummary: Plotless visit to the hospital. Laughs and warm fuzzies.

Author's notes: Thank you to Becky for suggesting the title. Inspired by music from Water Circles by Mia Jang.

A Hard Day's Night
by Robyn
October 2000

A raindrop slipped effortlessly toward the dark earth from its birthplace in the nighttime clouds above Cascade, submerging itself in a small puddle on the already damp sidewalk. Water circles spread out from the place of its joining, causing the glimmer of a window-shaped square of light in the small pool of water to waver. In a few moments, other drops followed its lead, splashing into the puddle until it spread outward and spilled over the sidewalk's edge into the street, endlessly blurring the watery mirror.

The window-shaped square of light belonged to room 207 on the second floor of Cascade Hospital. Within it, someone awoke to the quiet patter of rain on the glass and the street below.

Blair's eyes flickered open slowly, struggling to adjust to the unexpected brightness of the fluorescent light behind and above the elevated head of the gurney. He rubbed his eyes with one fist in an attempt to clear the fog from his head. Beneath the sheet and blankets, he wondered if his right leg had magically turned into a log while he slept, it felt so heavy and immovable. Then it all came back to him in a rush.

The camping trip.

The blissful three days of fishing, hiking, and snoozing. The melted S'mores and roasted Hebrew National hot dogs. The hot apple cider. The card games and friendly bickering and teasing with Jim. The early morning potty call. The evil boulder.

The evil boulder?

Blair winced. It had rolled, he had fallen, and his leg had been smashed beneath the massive piece of granite. It had taken Jim, a makeshift winch on Sweetheart, and a good length of heavy hemp rope before his leg could be mercifully unpinned. After that, one could not forget Dr. McCue, the x-rays, and a generous dose of Demerol and Versed which helped to get his leg realigned and splinted.

Thank God he didn't remember either of those parts.

"At least you don't need surgery," he remembered Jim saying just before they gave him the pain meds. Nah. All he needed was -- he squinted at the wall clock -- a couple hours to wake up from the sedation.

Blair's gaze shifted downward. Speaking of sedation, he thought to himself as he regarded his partner's current state of consciousness. Perhaps state of un-consciousness would be a better term.

Scooted up next to the gurney, an overstuffed blue vinyl recliner cradled the detective in a grandmotherly fashion. Leaning forward with his head resting atop folded arms on the edge of the hospital gurney, his tired friend slept with mouth hanging open, his face turned toward Blair. Unshaven face, rumpled hair, and an equally rumpled unbuttoned brown plaid shirt hurriedly thrown over a gray t-shirt and sweatpants completed the picture of the napping sentinel.

A fond smile spread over Blair's face as he watched his dozing friend. Jim's day hadn't exactly been a restful one, considering it had begun abruptly with an unexpected early-morning awakening to Blair's calls for help. After budging the bullheaded boulder and quickly dismantling the campsite all by himself, Jim had rushed Blair a couple hours away to the nearest ER. It had taken several more hours for the injured partner to be seen by all required medical personnel and to finally receive definitive treatment. Waiting for his friend to wake up had evidently been the last straw for the exhausted man.

What would I do without you, Jim? Withdrawing his hand from beneath the blankets, Blair reached out carefully, softly resting his hand upon Jim's.

The slumbering man took a deep breath, smiling slightly to himself. Finally, blue eyes blinked open. Peering up, he saw Blair. "Hey you," he grinned more widely, his voice gravelly with drowsiness.

Blair chuckled. "I thought you were supposed to wait for me to wake up," he teased.

"Remember that next time you decide you have to pee at 4 am," Jim retorted good-naturedly. "Is your leg okay?" he said, lifting up the covers to peer at the white plaster.

"Hey -- put that down! You're letting the cold air in!" Blair protested.

Laughing, the detective replaced the covers. "Sorry."

"Yeah, right."

Jim straightened, lifting his arms up to stretch as he yawned. "Remind me never to sleep that way again," he said as he reached over to rub a stiff shoulder.

Blair laughed. "I would, but you never listen."

Jim simply smiled.

The anthropologist paused, surveying his surroundings while Jim got up and stretched his long legs, rolling his head slowly from side to side in an attempt to get the kinks out. "We're not in the ER anymore," Blair noted.

"No," said Jim, buttoning up his shirt. "They moved us to this new observation unit when I told them how long it usually takes you to wake up from a little pain medication."

"Funny -- I thought that was you," mused Blair.

"There's nothing more boring than watching you sleep," Jim groused. "Besides, the nurse said this is a place where they can watch patients for a few hours without having to admit them, and they needed the bed in the ER for someone else. You hate being admitted."

"You sure we didn't get kicked out because you were giving the ER docs a hard time again?" Blair teased.

Jim rubbed a hand over his face, trying to hide a guilty smile. "It's raining," he changed the subject, getting up to look out the watery window pane. "You know what that means."

"I don't know -- we get to go puddle hopping?" Blair grinned mischievously, reaching for his sweatshirt at the foot of the bed and pulling it on.

"No, silly. It means good thing Ellison put the blue tarp nice and snug over all the camping equipment in the truck bed. Otherwise we'd be airing out soggy sleeping bags for the next week. And you're not hopping anywhere with that cast, and especially not in any puddles. I won't have you stinking any sooner than necessary," Jim declared.

"This splint's only for a week, Jim," Blair corrected. "They cast it later, remember?"

"Whatever. It would still stink."

Blair shook his head, his eyes twinkling. "Sometimes your sense of smell is a real disadvantage."

"Just for that, we won't be using the garbage bag method to shower you this time around. I'll just hold you upside-down by the ankle and dip you."

"That method made Achilles almost invincible."

Jim feigned a look of mock horror. "In that case, never mind." Returning to the bedside, the detective helped his friend gingerly maneuver to its edge in preparation for standing.

"Rain means good thing we came home early, otherwise my hair might look worse than yours does now," continued Blair.

"Shut up, Sandburg," Jim said, reaching up to run a hand through his hair. "Nurse! Bed 3 is awake!" he called. "What were you doing with that boulder anyway?" he added under his breath as he steadied his partner.

Blair cleared his throat. "That's between me and the boulder."

A nurse sailed into the room, a pair of crutches in one hand and a prescription slip in the other. "Try these on for size, Blair," she said. "I hear you've done this before."

Blair nodded, putting a crutch under each arm. "Thanks. Jim can help me."

"Very well," she answered. "Sign here on the discharge instructions and you'll be on your way. Don't forget, you're to follow up with Ortho next week and return if any of these signs develop." The woman waited while Blair inscribed his signature on the triplicate form. "Let me know if you need help adjusting the crutches. There's a wheelchair just outside the door for you."

"Thank you, ma'am," Jim said, as he moved into position beside Blair to support him under the arms as he gingerly stood from the bed and balanced himself on the crutches.

"You're welcome, Detective. And it's about time you woke up," she added, smiling knowingly at Jim as she left.

Jim moved his mouth silently in a childish retort to her back.

Blair snickered. "See? She knows who the real patient was."

Draping a jacket over Blair's shoulders, Jim guided his friend with a hand on his back as they shuffled to the door. "Keep that up, Chief, and I might forget to come back to pick you up."

Blair shook his head as Jim helped him sit down in the wheelchair, then made sure Blair's jacket was tucked warmly around him. Jim handed the prescription and crutches to his partner, who settled them in his lap. Together, the pair made their way down the hall to the elevator and then the lobby. They stopped at the entrance, just under the covered loading/unloading area.

"I'll be back," Jim said as he locked the brakes on the wheelchair. "Don't go anywhere," he teased.

"Don't worry. I won't," answered Blair. A smile crossed his face as he watched Jim retreat into the parking lot, hopping over some puddles and splashing others, leaving rippling circles in the water behind him. Jim was glad to be going home tonight, and so was he. After a hard day, tonight was a night for being at home together.

The rain was stopping now. Above them, the light in room 207 blinked out, darkening the tranquil puddle on the sidewalk.

~The End~