Jim leaned heavily on his cane as he approached the front door to his home. Physical therapy had been a bitch and he was grateful that the elevator worked tonight. He furled out his hearing and heard Blair mumbling to himself. He didn't sound happy.
"What's up, Chief," Jim asked as he closed the door and hung up his jacket.
"Hey, Jim, how'd therapy go?" Blair called out from where he sat on the living-room floor.
"I think Baxter was a Spanish Inquisitor in a previous life. The things he had me do were pure torture," Jim said, only half kidding.
"Can I get you something--an ice pack or a warming pad?" Blair asked, starting to get up.
"Nah, I'll take a shower in a bit. I wouldn't say no to some tea, though."
Blair headed to the kitchen. He started the flame under the kettle and rummaged through their tea collection. "I thought we could just order Chinese tonight, if you don't mind. I got a little distracted this afternoon and didn't make anything."
"Sounds good," Jim replied. "What's all that," he asked, cocking his thumb toward the morass of books and papers on the coffee table.
"Academy stuff," Blair answered simply.
For a moment, Jim didn't know what to say. He fiddled with the tea bags. "Anything I can help with?"
"Yeah, actually," Blair answered. He poured the hot water in their cups and took his over to the living room. He picked up a notepad and showed it to Jim. "This a list of the classes I'm going to try to test out of. If there's anything you can tell me about them--things to watch out for, what to emphasize, that sort of thing. But my biggest problem is the Physical Ability Test. I'm not sure I can make it through the obstacle course. I only get three attempts to complete it, otherwise I could wash out of the Academy before I even start."
Jim could hear the worry in Blair's voice. He pushed aside some of the papers and put his tea on the coffee table, then sat down heavily on the couch. "Okay, first of all, the obstacle course isn't like the ones in military boot camp, like you've seen on TV. The PAT is meant to simulate things a cop might have to do on the street, like navigating over and around common obstacles at a sprint when you're chasing a perp, or crawling on your belly, like you might have to do in a firefight. You have to drag a dummy a certain number of feet and easily climb several flights of stairs--"
Blair snorted. "With as often as our elevator is out of order, I think I've got that one perfected. But there's still a high wall I have to get over, isn't there?"
"Yeah. Is that what's worrying you?"
Blair nodded. "I know I'm in decent physical shape. I've started doing push-ups and sit-ups and I'm jogging now. But there's no getting around that I'm short compared to most guys who apply for the academy. I don't want to look like a dork and I don't want to wash out."
Jim nodded. "There's no doubt it's difficult, but there are techniques that can help you. Here's the easiest way. Approach the wall and jump while yanking up with your arms. All you need to do is get your waist even with the top and lean over it. Then you hang onto the top with your arms and swing one leg over the top, followed by the rest of your body and slide down the other side."
"Just like that, huh?" Blair asked wryly. "I don't have the arm strength to do that--my pull-ups suck."
"No, see, the wall's not ten feet tall--more like six feet, because you'd probably be jumping backyard fences. So, the more important thing is your jumping ability. If you can jump high enough, you won't need as much arm strength to do it. You jump pretty well already, since we play a lot of basketball. If you add box jumps to your regimen, you'll be able to do it easily."
"Yeah. You get a sturdy box, like a wooden crate, and put it up against the wall. Then you jump up with both feet onto the box, then jump back down. Build up your reps and you'll have the leg strength to do it."
Blair sighed. "Okay, that sounds do-able. I can search for a box tomorrow--"
"And we'll reinforce it, so it won't collapse. They don't accept candidates in leg casts, either," Jim said with a smirk.
"Very funny, man. How about I order dinner and we can go over that list?"
"Sounds good. You know what I like. I'm going to hit the shower. Let's also go over your exercise routine so you're maximizing your efforts."
Blair nodded. "Why don't you head to the shower and I'll run up and get you some sweats."
Jim stood up a little stiffly. "Thanks, Chief." He hesitated. "And thanks for going through all this. I know when Simon offered you the badge, it sounded like you'd only have to go through firearms training…"
"Yeah, well, we're going to have some decent grumbling around the station when I skip Patrol and go directly to Detective. Going through the Academy training, even just the classes I can't test out of, will help head off some of that resentment." He blew out a breath. "At least that's the theory."
Jim patted Blair on the shoulder. "You know, you've developed quite a reputation for thinking on your feet and bravery that extends beyond Major Crime. We don't work in a vacuum, Chief. Every cop who saw me work saw you right alongside me. I don't think it will be as hard as you think." Jim limped toward the bathroom, leaving Blair stunned at his little speech.
Blair ran upstairs and got the clothes, knocking at the bathroom door before leaving them on the toilet seat. He placed their food order, then went back to the coffee table and started cleaning up the mess so they could enjoy the rest of the evening. He picked up the notebook and started another page, outlining his daily training.
Four weeks later.
"So, Jim," Joel greeted, coming over with a fresh cup of coffee in his hand. "Isn't today the day Blair does his PAT?"
"Yep," Jim said casually, continuing to review a report before signing it. When Joel didn't move away, obviously wanting a little more response, Jim looked at his watch. "Should be done pretty soon." He immediately regretted opening his mouth as Henri and Rafe sauntered over to join the conversation.
"I know he gets three attempts," H said, "but you think Hairboy'll have any problems?"
"No way," Rafe spoke up. "Have you seen Blair lately? He's got muscles everywhere now." As everyone stared, he said defensively, "What? Without all that flannel, it's really obvious he's changed more than his hair."
Just then, Simon walked in, looking harried. "What's going on? Don't you people have anything to do?"
"I'm finishing up the McManus report, Sir," Jim said virtuously, causing everyone to snicker in varying degrees.
"We're waiting," Joel said simply.
Simon stopped for a moment, and then realization dawned. "Well, I'm sure everything will be fine. So, find something to do while you're waiting. Remember, the watched pot and all that." Simon turned toward his office, just as Jim's phone rang.
"Ellison," Jim answered crisply. "Hey, Chief, how'd it go?"