Accidents Will Happen
Author's website: http://snycock.livejournal.com
Written for the LJ Sentinel Thursday challenge "no pain, no gain"
Spoilers for Survival
This story is a sequel to:
I'm in the shower, letting the hot water sluice the stress of the day from my neck and shoulders, when I hear it; the high-pitched chime of glass breaking. I pull my head out from under the spray and shout "Sandburg?"
"I'm okay, I'm okay!" I hear him say. There's a pause, and then a heavy thump. "Fuck!"
I'm out of the bathroom like a shot, skidding to a stop at the entrance to the kitchen, the towel barely wrapped around my waist. Blair is sitting on the kitchen floor, his back against the refrigerator, shards of brown glass scattered around him.
"Ow, ow, ow," he mutters.
"Chief, what the hell happened?"
"I dropped the beer, and I was trying to pick it up, and I slipped, and fell," he grumbles. I glare at him, because one, he shouldn't be drinking beer while he's taking painkillers, and two, he clearly wasn't using the crutches that are resting quietly against the wall on the other end of the kitchen from him.
He puts a hand up. "And before you say anything, I haven't been taking painkillers for two days, so I'm clean; and I thought I could clean the mess up without using the crutches." He winces. "But I think I might have stepped on a piece of glass."
He bends his leg, bringing his foot up towards his face, sole upwards, and I see it - a big shard, embedded right in the arch of his left foot.
Blair sees it too. "Ohhh..." he moans, his face going pale.
I put my hand on his shoulder and squeeze it gently. "Don't look at it," I advise him. "Let me get some clothes on and we'll get you up and check it out."
I stand and head for my bedroom. I see him making an effort to lever himself up off the floor and I turn, walking backwards towards the stairs. "Sandburg, I'm serious!" I say, pointing my finger at him. "Stay put, for once, okay?"
"Ohhhkaayyyy..." he sighs, slumping back down onto the kitchen floor.
I take the steps two at a time and pull on the first clothes I can find, jeans and a t-shirt, along with socks and my hiking boots. I also grab my first aid kit. I jog back down the stairs. Sandburg, true to form, is sliding backwards on his butt out of the kitchen. "Chief!" I say, exasperated, "what part of `stay put' do you not understand?"
"I'm sorry," he grumbles, clearly not sorry at all, "I just wanted to try and get away from the glass."
I crouch down next to him. "Put your arms around my neck," I tell him.
"Put your arms around my neck." I go slowly this time.
"Uh, Jim, you can't pick me up."
"Don't flatter yourself, Junior. I can pick you up." He looks at me doubtfully, but complies. I take a deep breath and stand up, sliding my arms underneath him as I lift him off the floor. Christ, he's heavy. I move over towards the dining room table. "See, I can lift you," I say, the breath starting to whistle in my throat. "I wouldn't want to run the 100-yard dash carrying you, but I think I can make it to the chair."
"Great," he says glumly. "Not that I was feeling particularly masculine or virile today or anything...." I roll my eyes at him and deposit him on one of the dining room chairs. I take a minute to catch my breath and then sit on one of the other chairs, pulling his foot up into my lap.
I examine the shard of glass in his foot for a moment, then stand, putting his foot down on the chair, and go dig my work gloves and an old towel out of the hall closet. Pulling the gloves on, I sit back down and lift his foot onto my lap again. "I'm gonna pull this out, okay?" I ask. He nods, his face pale.
The shard slides out easily and I press the towel against his foot, hard. After a while the bleeding stops and I can examine the wound. "I don't know, Blair," I say. "I think maybe this needs stitches."
"No!" he says, sharply, and the thread of panic in his voice makes me raise my head and look at him. He's at least two shades paler than he was a few minutes ago, and his eyes are bright. "I am so not going back to the hospital again, man." He blinks a few times, and swallows hard.
I understand where he's coming from. It's been a little over a week since he got shot during our tangle with Quinn; the recovery from that has been slow, hence the crutches and the painkillers that he's not using. Then this week he ended up in the ER twice; granted once was because of some bad cream cheese someone had left in the break room, but the other was for a concussion he'd sustained as he was leaving Forensics with a lab report. Seems a perp got loose from Booking and led the guys a merry chase through the PD, plowing over Sandburg in the process. Kid's a trouble magnet even when he's trying his best to not be.
So I get where this is coming from, but this wound looks deep to me, and it's in a bad location. It really needs a few stitches to hold it together. Shaking my head, I say, "Blair, I really think..." but he interrupts me.
"Please, Jim. I can't...I can't go back there." His voice is slightly hoarse. "Can't you do it?"
"Yeah, you had medic training in the Army. Can't you just do it yourself?"
I stare at him in astonishment. "Sandburg, I haven't got the right equipment, no anesthetic, nothing's sterile...." I trail off as he gives me that look. I'm a sucker for that look, that pleading, puppy-dog look. And it's not like I haven't done this before.
I exhale irritably. "Fine. But I'd better not hear a word of complaint out of you." He looks better already; a little color has returned to his cheeks and there's the beginning of a faint smile across his face.
"No way, man, I promise."
I go into the kitchen and gather what I need, avoiding the broken glass. I'll clean that up after I've finished with Sandburg's foot. As I'm digging around in one of the cabinets for a baggie for ice, I have an idea. I reach into the back and pull out my bottle of Jim Beam.
I set it next to Sandburg on the kitchen table with a glass. "Here. Have a few shots of this while I'm getting the rest of the supplies."
Three generous shots later, Sandburg is flushed and grinning, and I move the bottle out of his reach. "Okay, that's enough," I say, "I want you numb, not comatose."
"Numb is good," he burbles cheerfully. "We have achieved numbness, I think."
I smile and shake my head at him, sterilizing the needle with a match.
"Have you ever had to do this before? Or get stitched up yourself?" he asks.
"Both," I reply absently, concentrating on threading the needle.
"I bet you didn't need any booze," he says, "No pain, no gain; isn't that the Ranger motto? Or is it the Marines?"
"Neither. The Ranger motto is sua sponte: of their own accord. The Marines' is semper fidelis..."
"Always faithful," he chimes in. "Then who said `no pain, no gain'?"
"I think that was Richard Simmons, Chief." I grab the baggie full of ice, wrap it in a towel, and hold it against his foot. "I'm gonna numb this as much as possible, but it's still probably gonna hurt a little."
"S'ok," he says, gripping the seat of the chair with both hands, "I'm ready."
I put in five stitches, as fast as I can, but he's moved past pale and into gray by the time I'm done. His heart is thumping and his breath is coming short, and suddenly he doesn't look so numb anymore. Nothing like pain to kill a buzz. I clip off the thread and reach for the gauze. "Breathe, Chief," I say, tapping his knee gently.
He takes a shaky breath, and then another. I finish wrapping the gauze around his foot and give it a little pat, and then stand and stretch my back out. I go over and grab one of the crutches lying against the wall, then come back to Blair. He's looking better; there are spots of color in his cheeks now and he seems to be breathing normally. I hold up the crutch. "You think between me and this crutch and you, we can get you over to the couch?" I really don't want to lift him again, not if I want to have the use of my back tomorrow. Shouldn't have been such a damned showoff, I chide myself.
He nods and I slide my arm around his shoulders and help him stand up. It's slow going, but we finally get over there, and he slides down to sit on the couch with a heavy sigh of relief. I rest the crutch against the arm of the couch and lean over him, grabbing a throw pillow to tuck under where his feet are resting on the coffee table - hey, the house rules don't get rescinded, even when you're hurt - and he turns to look at me. "Thanks," he breathes. His face is so close; we're practically nose-to-nose.
And then he kisses me.
I'm frozen for a moment in shock, and then I'm kissing him back. I have wanted this - wanted him - for so long, but never had the balls to upset the status quo. I've had a million thoughts, fantasies, dreams about how this might play out, if it happened, but none of them were like this. Kissing him is like coming home; it's warmth and security and comfort. He tastes so fucking good, and I can't stop; my hands holding his head, buried in his hair, plundering that sweet, gorgeous mouth. His hands are against my chest; I can feel his heat through the thin t-shirt; I can feel his hands as they slowly tighten into fists, clutching my shirt hard. But eventually all good things must come to an end, and his hands loosen; he pulls away slightly, and, regretfully, I let him go.
His eyes are huge, pools of midnight blue. We're both breathing heavily, and I can smell pheromones coming off of him. "You, uh...you never mentioned..." he says, looking hesitant.
"Neither did you." Clever comeback, Ellison. Way to be romantic.
He smiles, a little uncertainly. "I was afraid you'd freak out," he says, almost at the same time as I say, "I didn't want to mess up what we had going."
He chuckles at that, the smile widening. "We're a pair, huh?" he says.
"Yeah," I agree. An awkward silence descends, and I cast around for the right thing to say next. He shouldn't have to be the only one with guts in this relationship. But nothing comes to me. "I...uh, I better go clean up that bottle," I say, feeling like the flush on my cheeks must be a nice match for the mile-wide yellow streak up my back.
I'm angry with myself as I move around the kitchen, cleaning up the pieces of glass and the spilled beer. I don't know why I do shit like this. I don't know why I end up pushing the people I care about, who care for me, away. I don't know why I can't find the words to tell people what's important. I look over at Sandburg; he's slumped down and I can just see the back of his head over the back of the couch. I know what he would tell me, if I could ask him. He'd say Just give it another try, Jim. Relax, take a deep breath, and find your center. Okay? Now try it again...
I finish cleaning up the glass, give the floor a last visual sweep - Sentinel senses do come in handy sometimes - and take a deep breath. Okay. Center. Try it again.
I go over to the couch and sit down next to him. His head is bent, hair obscuring his features. His hands are lying quietly in his lap. "Sorry," he says, softly.
"Accidents happen, Chief. It's no big deal."
"No, I mean, about...this." His hand waves back and forth between us.
I reach out and push his hair back, savoring the silky texture, stroking my thumb gently across the top of his ear. "Don't be. I'm not."
He looks up at me, startled, and I slide my hand around to the back of his neck and pull him close for another kiss. When we separate his smile is back, and I feel it mirrored in my own.
"So," he says, an impish gleam in his eyes, "you think between me and this crutch and you, we can get me upstairs?"
I eye the stairs. "Well, Chief, it'll be hard, but you know what they say - no pain, no gain."
We make our way slowly and carefully up the stairs, each with one arm wrapped around the other, supporting each other, leaning on each other. And now I see that this is nothing new, really - it's just the way it's always been with us.
Accidents Will Happen by PsychGirl: firstname.lastname@example.org
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