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Thanks, Jim

by Kristine Williams

A Missing Scene

"Oh man! No! No no no no, aw shit!!"

Jim leapt out of bed, instantly awakened by his roommate's exclamations. "Sandburg?!" He hurried to the stairs and was halfway down before he realized what he was doing.

"Dammit!" Blair was seated at the kitchen table, his laptop computer in front of him, the screen blank. Strewn about the table were papers and notes in seeming disarray.

Jim realized then that his friend wasn't under attack or dying a horrible death. "Hey, Chief, what's going on? Why all the racket?" He yawned and rubbed his face, checking the clock on the wall. "Sandburg, it's 3AM."

Blair just sat there, staring at the blank screen, shaking his head slowly from side to side.

"Hey, what's going on? Huh?" Jim approached from behind, placing one hand on Blair's shoulder. He could feel the minute trembling of muscles, the battle of stress over exhaustion.

"Jim, it's gone. All gone." Blair was practically whispering. "All that work, and it just vanished."

"What happened?" Jim moved around in front of his partner, pulling out a chair so he could sit down, facing Blair.

He shook his head again, still staring at the screen. "All my work. I just spent the past 14 hours putting that data together, cross referencing, checking, re-checking, keying it all in--and it's gone."

Jim suddenly realized what he was getting at. "Your paper? The paper you've been working on since early yesterday?"

Blair nodded, looking at Jim. His eyes were bloodshot, and his hands shook slightly with the overload as they pushed the hair from his face. "It's gone, man. I have to start all over." He glanced into the kitchen. "I need more coffee."

"Hold on there, Chief. You've been at this non-stop for too long. You need to take a break and get some sleep."

"No, man, I have to turn this in tomorrow afternoon, or the grant goes to someone else." Blair shook his head emphatically as he stood. "I need that money, Jim. It happens to be what I live on, remember?"

"Yeah, I remember, Sandburg. But sleep and food are what you live on too." Jim stood with Blair and blocked his way into the kitchen. "You're falling apart here, Chief. The last thing you need is more coffee." He reached out and put a hand on Blair's shoulder, steering him around the table, away from the kitchen. Blair was shaking his head, but he wasn't fighting Jim's guidance. "Can't you just scan those pages into the computer?"

"No, I can't. Scanners don't read handwriting, and they barely recognize typed documents." Blair tried to turn, but Jim maintained a firm hold on his shoulder. "No, Jim, I have to get this done. If I get started now, I might be finished by this afternoon."

"Blair, come on, you're unconscious, you just don't know it." Jim tightened his hold and maneuvered his friend into the bedroom, then with a push on both shoulders, got him to sit down on the bed. "You get some sleep, and maybe later we can find a way to .... I dunno, find the data. It's gotta be in there somewhere, doesn't it?"

Blair shook his head slowly, but his eyes weren't focusing. "Not necessarily, Jim. It could very well be lost for good. I just have to re-type it all." He made another move to get off the bed, but Jim's restraining hand kept him there easily.

"We can worry about it after you've had some sleep. Come on, Chief." Jim reached down and pulled off Blair's shoes. His partner was so exhausted, Jim was sure he didn't even know he'd just sat down on the bed. The shoes off, Jim went for Blair's sweatshirt, pulling it up and over his head. Next were the jeans, and Blair didn't even register what was going on until he was lying down.

"No, Jim, I have to get that.."

"You have to get some sleep." Jim held Blair down long enough to get him to stop trying to get up, then finished pulling his jeans off and swung both his legs up onto the bed. "Right now, no arguments." He reached down and pulled the blanket up and over Blair's lower body. "I'm tired of listening to the clatter of that damn computer anyway. I need some sleep, if you don't." He stared down at Blair, who was trying his level best to stare back, but his eyelids kept getting in the way.

"Just a few minutes, Jim. Then I gotta..ge.."

Jim laughed quietly, watching Blair fall asleep mid-sentence. He flipped off the light, and closed both doors gently. Sometimes the kid just didn't know what was best for him. Always looking out for Jim, trying to work what amounted to two full-time jobs, and giving 100% of himself to both. He tried to hard. And he achieved much. For that, Jim was grateful. He'd never have found a partner like Blair if he'd searched the Academy for years. Even Jack hadn't been that devoted. Not like Blair.

Jim sighed as he stared down at the computer, glancing over Blair's notes. His partner's handwriting was very clear, easy to read. And there was no way he was going to get any more sleep tonight, after waking up with that adrenaline rush. So, he made a pot of coffee, found some cold Chinese food, and sat down.

Blair rolled over, every fiber of his being telling him NOT to look at the clock. He looked at the clock.

"Oh shit!" 10:24. "Oh man!" He leapt out of bed--or at least he tried to--but he was so exhausted, the best his body was able to do was a slow oozing from under the warm covers. "Oh, come on, come on." Blair tried to urge his body to shake it off and get moving. Jim was probably gone, he hated to be late, and obviously hadn't woken Blair to get his ass out of bed in time to come in. And oh shit! The paper!!

Blair flew, with amazing slowness, out of his room and into the dining area, where his laptop was sitting. All closed up. And his notes were lying in neat little piles, all stacked up beside the computer.

"Hey, Chief."

Blair nearly jumped out of his skin when Jim appeared at the bottom of the steps. "You hungry?"

"What? Jim, what happened? Why didn't you wake me? I've got too much to do, man!" He flipped open the computer case and fumbled around for the power switch.

"Relax, Sandburg. It's done."

"What?" Blair looked up, confused. "What's done, Jim?"

"Your paper. It's done." Jim walked past Blair and into the bathroom, then emerged a few seconds later, having deposited his towel into the hamper.

"How is my paper done, Jim?" Blair still stood at the table, one hand on the power switch, watching Jim.

"I found it, saved it just in case, then finished it for you." Jim entered the kitchen and poured a cup of coffee. "You hungry?"

Blair stood there too stunned to reply. Looking down at the computer, he flipped it on, then scanned for his file. One click, and he was rewarded with the paper, exactly as he had typed it. "Jim, how...?"

"Just a little detective work, Sandburg." Jim took a sip of coffee, then checked his watch. "Which, I had better go do, before Simon looks up and sees my desk still empty."

"Wait, Jim..." Blair held out a hand to stop his partner, who had walked to the door, putting on his coat along the way.

"I'll meet you for lunch at the University, how's that sound?"

Blair shook his head, still stunned to have found not only his paper intact and in the computer, but finished. "Jim, I don't know what to say."

"Say we can eat lunch at Tony's Grill."

He laughed, understanding. "Yeah, okay."

Jim smiled widely and slapped Blair on the arm. "Pick you up at 1:00."

"Hey," Blair reached out to stop Jim as he turned to open the door, snagging his jacket sleeve.

Jim paused, looking at Blair.

"Thanks, Jim. I don't.."

"You're welcome, Chief."


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