Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

Storm
by Becky
April 1999

Jim hummed under his breath as he stirred the spaghetti sauce with the wooden spoon. Closing his eyes, he inhaled the aroma of tomatoes and oregano and other Italian spices, smiling to himself at their deliciousness. His mouth watered in anticipation of a quiet evening of dinner and some action flick with his roommate. No cases to worry about. No paperwork waiting for him at the office. No tests coming up for Blair -- that he knew of, at least.

Speaking of Sandburg...shouldn't he be getting home soon? He glanced at his watch and frowned. Past 6p.m. Where is...?

Just then the distant sound of stomping met his ears and he opened his hearing a little more, locating the noise as coming from the building's stairwell. The stomping was accompanied by Blair's familiar voice, muttering a string of rather harsh invectives, only half in English, under his breath. Jim winced. Uh-oh, sounds like the evening's not gonna be so quiet after all.

He turned down the heat on the sauce, letting it simmer just enough to keep warm. Then he rinsed the wooden spoon and set it on the spoon holder next to the stove top. As he was running a sponge over the countertop, the door to the loft was shoved open roughly. Jim paused and looked over to see Blair, backpack over one shoulder, stride into the loft, panting a little from the three flights of stairs. He opened his mouth to say something but then winced when Blair slammed the door shut and moved quickly across the floor, still muttering and biting off various insults, to his bedroom. Jim watched him pass in silence, wincing again when the french doors whooshed open and closed with a clatter. He heard Blair's backpack hit the floor with a resounding thud the next moment.

"Yes, quiet is definitely out," Jim murmured. He set the sponge aside and dried his hands on the flowered apron while he pondered what he should do next. Leave him be? Or go try to make him talk to me? His partner could be rather mercurial at times, and Jim still had to guess every so often to figure out just what would work best to help his guide work through whatever was bothering him.

Before he could decide what to do, the doors to Blair's bedroom flew open again and his partner stomped out to stand on the other side of the kitchen island. Jim blinked, taking in the upset man before him. Blue eyes flashed with barely restrained anger. Jaw muscles clenched tightly and firmly. Every muscle and tendon was drawn tight with tension and stress. Energy practically sizzled off the smaller man.

"Uh, Chief--?"

"You know, Jim, there are days that I really really hate being a grad student and being such a 'willing-to-help' person at the same time. I mean, a lot of people just assume that if I'm around, I'll help them. Doesn't matter what I've got planned for the day or that I might be busy with my own work or that I just don't have the time or whatever. No, I just get 'volunteered' by...by...by whomever to do whatever they want me to. I mean, really..." He turned away, pacing, hands jerking in the air. "Don't they realize I have my own work, my own projects to do? I do! I've got plenty. I'm always busy with something. You know that better than anyone."

Jim nodded, watching his friend pace back and forth, wondering just what had happened since this morning. At breakfast, he was fine. A little harried, but he's like that when he's got something big going on. Just what has he been working on? He jerked himself back to reality when he realized Blair was still speaking.

"...figured it would be okay. It shouldn't take that long and then I could back to that paper I'm trying to finish, plus the grading I need to do for my anthro class. So I start helping the professor in his office and just as I think I'm done and can get back to my own office, this other professor comes in, sees me, and says, 'Oh, Sandburg, you about done? I need your help on this.' And then marches on back out, just expecting me to follow like some...some...mindless idiot!" Blair braced his hands on the back of the couch, leaning forward for a moment, then jerked upward, pacing again. "So I'm like obligated to help this other professor as well. And I can't say no or something. It just totally...sucks!"

"Why?"

Blair, standing near the table, whirled to look at him. "Why? Why what, Jim? Why does it suck?"

Jim shook his head. "No, why can't you say no?"

"Because I'm just a grad student, Jim. It's not like I've got any real say with this man. But actually, that's really not the worst of it. Not by a long shot. This professor, he's nice and really good with the freshmen students, but....I hate to say this, but it's true -- he can be so absent-minded and a touch flaky. And a lot of the other grad students know it. So now I've got these guys hassling me about being involved in this bizarro project. Doesn't matter that it wasn't my choice. No. They just keep ragging on him for being so out there and on me, basically telling me what fools we both are. It just makes me so...mad." Blair paced into the kitchen, standing near Jim, facing slightly away, bringing both hands up to shove his loose hair back. "The things they say, they're just so... hurtful. Snide and nasty. Hearing them delivered constantly is just getting to me."

Jim reached out a hand, stretching it to touch Blair's back. "I'm sorry, Chief."

Blair twitched under his touch, shaking his head. "I just...sometimes I just want to yell at them or something. Or break something."

A moment later, Jim held a plate in front of his partner's face. He watched Blair's unfocused wild eyes light on it. Then two hands came up, snatched it away from his grasp and threw it hard at the floor. Cautiously turning his hearing back up, Jim carefully tracked where all the shards ended up, making a mental note to vacuum in here as soon as Blair calmed down enough to think clearly again.

Blair stayed where he was, staring downward at the scattered remains of the plate on the kitchen floor. "I broke it." The energy seemed to drain away in a sudden flash.

Raising an eyebrow, Jim said, "Yeah. You did. Do you feel better now?"

"Yes. No." Blair shrugged. "I don't know. A little. I guess." He looked up at Jim. "I can't believe you let me break a plate."

Jim smiled. "It had a chip in it anyway. And I never liked the pattern. Clashed with the design of the flatware."

Laughter snuck out of Blair -- true laughter that time. "Clashed with the flatware. Cute, Jim."

Reaching over to rest his hand on Blair's shoulder, Jim squeezed it. "Whatever you need, Chief. And whenever. You know I'm there. Even if that means breaking a few plates. Okay?"

Blair's grin softened to a thankful smile. "Yeah, I know." He leaned toward Jim, not wanting to move his feet, even with his sneakers on, until they'd cleaned up the glass pieces underfoot. One arm came up to cup the back of his head as the other encircled him as Jim met him in the middle, holding Blair's head to his chest. "Thanks."

Jim's other hand rubbed his back. "Anytime, pal. Anytime."

They remained that way for several moments, just absorbing the quietude and the comfort of one another. Upset tremors still coursed through Blair's frame and his hands opened and closed spasmodically against Jim's chest, but Jim was pleased to hear his breathing and heart rate calming some.

He asked softly, "You want to tell me what this was all about after dinner?"

"Dinner?" Blair pulled away to peek around Jim and spotted the pots on the stove top. "You making that famous Ellison spaghetti sauce?"

Jim lifted the lid of the pot with a flourish. "Of course. Why settle for anything less?"

Blair looked from the pot to Jim's face. "Why indeed." One hand still rested against Jim's chest, over his heart. Jim met his eyes and smiled at him, bringing his other hand around to lay over Blair's, squeezing it.

"Clean-up first, then we eat. And then we talk."

Nodding, Blair crouched down to start picking up the larger pieces of glass as Jim reached under the sink to grab the small rubber bucket they had in the cupboards. "Sounds good to me. Maybe you can give me some ideas on how to handle these bozos."

"Hmm."

A few moments passed, then Blair started to chuckle. Feeling Jim's curious gaze on him, he explained, "I just got this image of them lined up to receive the E-G-G."

"The what?" Jim carefully dropped a large shard of glass in the bucket.

"The Ellison Glare and Growl. Guaranteed to work every time."

Jim blinked and shook his head, then started to laugh, bringing Blair with him as they continued to work. The Ellison Glare and Growl. Wonder if Simon knows about that?

"Grrrrr...."

- The End -