Detective Jim Longworth wandered into the main entrance of the hospital, trying not to look for a certain nurse. Just thinking about Callie made his arm throb in time with his head. He was only there to check on Sam, then get home for some well-earned sleep. Letting his feet guide him, Jim found his reluctant way to the nurse's station.
"Jim?" The quiet inquiry came from behind; if he wasn't so tired, the detective would have been more surprised. Deep down, however, Jim knew he'd run into her eventually... Just not right now.
"What's going on? I heard your partner was brought in earlier. You guys okay?"
"Uh, yeah," Jim said awkwardly. "Just here to – I'm here to check on Detective Harper." The throbbing sensation in his arm intensified slightly as he shoved his hand into his pocket.
Raising, then furrowing her brows, Callie pointed toward the nurse's station. "I can check to see where she is now." Flipping through paperwork, she shook her head. "You know, it's been crazy around here since... Anyway, she hasn't been admitted yet, so maybe she's still in the ER?"
Crossing his arms, Jim absently rubbed the elbow of the injured limb. The dog bite hadn't broken the skin, technically, but there were welts and scrapes from the chase. Not to mention the newly healed cuts from his exploding car. Sighing, Jim nodded. "Okay. Thanks for checking. See ya later." He turned on his heel, heading back to the emergency room.
"Hey, Jim!" Callie rounded the desk in a hurry, a frown marring her smooth features. "What's with you lately?"
A fair question, he thought. "Sorry, Cal. It's been a long day. I just wanted to check on Sa– Harper and go home. Well," he tilted his head thinking of the flashing lights and cars all over his driveway. "If my backyard isn't still a crime scene."
"Whoa. Wait. You mind backing that up for me, Jim?"
Not really, he thought sourly. "Caught the serial killer. Only problem was, Sam got hurt when we flushed him out." Picking up his pace, Jim hoped she would leave it at that.
"Let me get this straight," she jogging to catch up to her friend. "The serial killer you've both been tracking for years ended up at your house?"
As Callie lay a hand on his arm, Jim wondered how long it would be before his body wouldn't respond so quickly to her touch. Slowing his pace, he couldn't bring himself to look down at her pleading eyes. His stomach turned, knowing he wouldn't be able to melt in her arms and forget about the past.
"What if she wasn't there? Jim... What if... Would he have attacked you? Why –"
Jim shook his head; he didn't want to play 'What If?' games with the nurse. His friend. Yes, she's still your friend, Jimmy, his inner voice reminded. It's okay for her be concerned. "Believe me, I wasn't his type."
"But... that's your house, Jim. Your refuge, you know?"
Jim frowned, not quite understanding her point. Sighing, he smiled as brightly as he could. "I love how you're so concerned about my house, Mrs. Cargill. Maybe you can find me a new pool guy since the other one tried to kill my partner."
Callie finally smiled, lightly punching him in the arm. "Fine. Joke all you want." Winding her arms around his waist, she patted his back. "You feel a little warm. Are you okay?"
"Yeah. I'm good. Probably just adrenaline." He shrugged. "Chasing bad guys does that to a person." With a final squeeze, he reluctantly moved away from her embrace. "I'll see you later."
"When you get home, drink lots of water, and get some rest, Jim. Okay?" She smiled sweetly, rising on her tip toes.
Automatically, Jim kissed her chastely. Slipping away, he squeezed her hand, making his way through the ER without looking back.
"'Bout time you showed up, Longworth." Sam Harper said looking a little more than frustrated.
"Yeah, got a little tied up since my –"
"– House is a crime scene," she finished for him. "I get it. But I really want to get out of here now. They told me I couldn't go until you got here."
Glancing around, the detective spotted a set of scrubs on a nearby chair. "Get changed, and I'll check on your paperwork." As he turned on his heel, his bad arm hit the edge of the gurney, sending waves of pain up his arm. Biting the inside of his cheek, Jim took several breaths, thankful Sam was pulling a shirt over her head.
Exiting the room, he nearly ran over Callie. Opening eyes he didn't realize were closed, Jim tried to smile. "Hey there," he said breathlessly. "Twice in one visit."
"Um, yeah – Oh my God, Jim! Your arm!" Callie gently raised the injured limb, palpitating the area around the wound. "When did this happen?"
"He got bit by a dog the other night," Sam chimed in, adjusting the ties on her scrubs. "I told him to get it checked out, but he never listens to me."
Callie wanted to ignore the other detective, but in the end, she was forced to agree. "Well, come on." She directed, tugging Jim toward another gurney.
"No, Cal. It's just a bruise. I –"
"What kind of dog?"
"I dunno. It was dark. A shepherd maybe?"
Frowning, the nurse pulled him behind the curtain. "You could still have a fracture. These bruises are pretty deep."
Sam peeked around the curtain, a smile lighting her features. At least someone's looking out for him, she thought. And a nurse to boot! "Jim, you get checked out. I'm gonna ask one of these fine officers for a ride." Scanning the ER and the adjacent corridor, Sam sited her target. "Meet you back at your place."
Dazed, Jim only nodded. Somehow, things spun out of his control. Again.
"Your place, huh?" Callie tried not to sound suspicious; she hoped Jim was too out of it to notice.
Shrugging, the detective eased his aching body onto the gurney. "Yeah. You know how expensive hotels are in this town. Thought I'd save her a buck."
"Well, that was generous." The man does have like three other rooms in that huge house, she tried to reason.
"Hey," Jim replied, placing his hands on her shoulders. "You know there's nothing going on. Whatever happened between the two of us was a long time ago." Sighing, he shook his head. "A very long time ago."
Deep down, Callie knew she was overreacting. Looking into his tired eyes, she knew he was telling the truth. "Fine. You're right. Sorry." Pulling his right arm from her shoulder, she gently examined the bruises. Stealing glances at his face, she saw his jaw clench more than once. "I'd like to get an x-ray, Jim."
"Nah. Deep bruises, sure. Doesn't feel like a fracture."
"How would you know –? You know what? Never mind." She couldn't help smile at his nonchalant statement. Men.
"Hey, Callie," a new voice said. "Portable x-ray's open." The nurse left with a wink.
Jim's pained expression turned to amusement. "Suzie, huh? What's she like? She like cops? Ow!" Yanking his hand back after she smacked it, Jim grinned. "Okay, maybe I deserved that."
"You did." Reaching into a cabinet, the nurse gathered supplies. "Lie down for me, Jim."
Raising his hands in protest, Jim moved to the edge of the gurney. "Look, I appreciate what you're doing, but I'm fine. Honest!"
Glaring at him, Callie waited until he capitulated. "An x-ray, and I'll clean this up. Then I want you to eat something."
His stomach flipped at the idea of food; it was his habit to snack during the day. Breathing deeply, Jim willed his nausea away, hoping his friend didn't see his discomfort.
"I saw that."
Snapping on a glove, Callie narrowed her eyes. "You know, in this job I've seen people turn green before. You, my friend," she winked. "Are a little green."
"Are too. Lie still while I grab the portable x-ray."
With a grumble and a sigh, Jim reluctantly waited for her to return. Staring at the ceiling tiles, the detective went over the case in his head. Little details sprang to mind, chasing around his brain until he filed them away. Distantly, he heard Callie return; he may have even answered a few questions.
Soon all the sounds of the ER faded, stilling all around him.
When he woke, Jim found himself curled on his good side under a warm blanket. Blinking against the light and bustling of the ER, Jim sat upright, regretting the motion immediately.
Rubbing his hands over his face and through his hair, Jim noticed the light bandage around his arm. The pain was greatly diminished; he suspected Callie had slipped him a painkiller. When did that happen? Even his boots were gone.
Swinging his legs over the side of the gurney, Jim spotted his boots. With a great sigh, he hopped off the bed, stretching sore muscles.
"Hey, sleepyhead." Callie said quietly, pulling the abandoned blanket into her arms. "How was your nap?"
Snorting, Jim shoved his feet into his boots. "Just fine." Checking his watch, he found almost two hours had passed. "I gotta go. Thanks for the bed."
"Don't mention it. Catch." She tossed him a bottle of water. "Drink. Rest. See you tomorrow."
Leaving the hospital, Jim contemplated returning to the station, but a great yawn escaped him. He turned the car in the direction of home, hoping Sam wasn't in the mood for revisiting the glory days.
The house was mostly dark when he arrived; a light burned brightly in the kitchen, revealing his former partner.
Smiling, Harper raised her head from a pot. "Hey. I made you some soup."
Jim's brows raised in surprise. "Soup? You do know it's like ninety degrees outside."
"Yes, but you're not going to eat a salad right now, are you? Sit."
Shaking his head, Jim moved toward his bedroom. "Nah. I'm just gonna take a shower and go to bed."
Harper followed him, digging in her pocket. "Make him eat. Remind him not to get the bandage wet. Make sure he doesn't go into his office."
Pausing, Jim glanced at her. "What?"
"Callie." Sam waved the note in front of him. "She said you'd be difficult."
"Me? Difficult?" Continuing toward his bedroom, he shook his head. "Smelly, yes. Difficult, no."
"Well, she's really worried about you. And to be honest, I haven't seen you eat anything in hours."
Sighing, Jim paused at the threshold of his room. "Your point?"
Sam pocketed the note, keeping her hand in her pocket. "Look, partner, I know how you get after a case. All those crazy thoughts that float around your head, every little thing that make you question your decisions -"
"I'm too tired for this, Sam." Entering his room, Jim closed the door. He waited for her retreating footsteps before he moved toward the bathroom. Showering quickly, he felt slightly refreshed. Even a little hungry. He left his room feeling a little guilty; the women in his present life were so concerned for his well-being. No matter how much he tried to convince himself otherwise.
Warming the soup, the detective ate in silence, scribbling on a notepad. A sound somewhere to his left indicated Sam had returned. "Look, I'm sorry. I'm just -"
"Tired and cranky. I get it." Filling two glasses with water, she sat opposite him at the table. "At least I get to cross two things off Callie's list."
Smiling, Jim finished the soup, and drank the water. Another yawn escaped him. "I'm going to bed."
Sam Harper watched her former partner walk away. Dog bite or not, she wondered if the nurse had any more tricks up her sleeve to get Jim to take care of himself. Allowing herself a quick smile, she placed the dishes in the sink, and wandered toward her own room.