Closing the Door
Long before he walked into the loft Jim knew he was in for a rough time. He could hear that Blair's breathing was congested, and as soon as he opened the door he could smell the scent of sickness emanating from his Guide... and Jim knew from bitter experience that Blair just didn't do sick.
As much as the kid talked about not giving in to preconceived notions, and as much as he claimed he despised having to conform to what he described as "stereotypical male behavioral patterns imposed by society", Jim knew that getting his friend to admit that he was in pain was a struggle. In addition to that, "sick" usually implied things such as "rest" and "taking it easy", and those concepts were not the first thing that came to Jim's mind at the mention of the name "Blair Sandburg".
Jim was not surprised to see his partner making dinner when he walked in. It was, after all, Blair's night to cook, nor was he surprised when he was greeted with an incessant chatter, since that was part of Sandburg's standard evasive maneuvers. Jim had already learned how to gauge how sick his partner was feeling by the effort he put into his diversionary tactics: The more he talked, the sicker he was... four tribes, two expeditions and a distraught student later it became apparent that Blair was feeling downright miserable, but Jim knew better than to mention that little fact openly, since doing so would only serve to increase the speed of the verbal tornado that was running rampant through the loft. All he could do was keep an eye on his Guide and wait for him to crash, hoping that it would happen in a reasonably safe and controlled environment.
He noticed the fact that Blair had hardly touched his meal, but Jim decided that it was not a good time to push it. After changing into some sweats, Blair went to his room, but he left the door open.
The following morning Jim knew that Blair's cold had gotten worse during the night. He could feel the heat that was pouring out of his friend's body from several feet away, but it was apparent that Blair was determined to ignore that fact for as long as he could... again, nothing surprising there. Jim sighed, frustrated, he couldn't understand why wouldn't Sandburg ask for help. To make matters worse, Jim realized that Blair had a class to teach that morning, which meant he wouldn't be at the station where he could at least hope to keep an eye on him. The fact that Blair had promised to drop by the station to help him after lunch was a poor comfort. Jim knew better than to hope that Blair would have the common sense to cancel anything. That had never happened before, and Jim had no hopes that things would be any different this time around.
Jim kept glancing toward the elevator, waiting for his partner to arrive, but in the end that proved to be an unnecessary effort: He heard the congestion rattling in his partner's lungs from the moment he set foot in the building. When the elevator's doors opened Jim realized that his Guide looked awful, no sentinel senses required to make that assessment. Jim just wished that Blair would sit down, because it certainly didn't look like he'd be able to stand for much longer. To make matters worse both Rhonda and Taggert were looking at him like he was somehow personally to blame for his partner's condition.
His thoughts were interrupted by Simon's familiar bellow, summoning them to his office. Jim could only hope that they *wouldn't* be asked to go over a crime scene. Blair was looking green enough without that additional stimuli, and Jim seriously doubted that he would be able to keep his partner away from it if he was going to be in a situation in which he would be expected to use his senses.
Jim could see it in Simon's eyes the moment they walked into his office. The captain's demeanor changed the moment he saw Sandburg. Whatever it was that he wanted to say was replaced by a very simple command: "Take Sandburg home, put him to bed and keep him there before he starts an epidemic". That was an order that Jim certainly had no problems with, unfortunately the same couldn't be said about Sandburg.
Getting Blair to the loft was easy. Getting him to change into some sweats and get into bed was not. Sure, he had been ordered to go home and not to show his face around the station until he was feeling better, but since Blair still refused to acknowledge that he was feeling sick to begin with, Jim found himself facing an argument he couldn't possibly win... not that that was a new experience in his dealings with his partner.
As soon as they got to the loft, Blair headed for the dining room table and turned on his laptop. He insisted that he had things to do, and deadlines to meet, and he was not willing to spend his time laying around doing nothing. He also appeared to be determined to make a point out of the fact that, while Simon had the authority to kick him out of the station, that didn't entitle him to dictate what he could and should do when he wasn't there. In other words, Jim was having to fight Blair at his most stubborn.
Jim was surprised by the kid's resistance, he would have expected him to crash a lot sooner, but he decided that he had had enough of that nonsense. Not knowing what else to do, Jim decided that guilt was the only path he had left. He was not too fond of it, but since there didn't seem to be any other options open to him, he knew that guilt would have to do. Using the excuse that he had to get back to the station, Jim managed to talk Blair into going to bed using the argument that he really didn't feel comfortable with the idea of leaving Blair alone, not knowing if his partner would have enough common sense to take care of himself. Jim knew he wasn't playing fair, but the fact was that that argument finally did the trick of getting his partner to comply.
With a sigh of relief Jim closed the french doors and headed back to work. He didn't feel comfortable leaving his Guide sick and on his own, but he hoped that, while alone, Sandburg would be able to rest without having to pretend that everything was fine.
When he returned home that evening, Jim was relieved to discover that Sandburg had, for once, stayed put, but his relief was short-lived. When he entered his friend's room he realized that he was in a restless slumber, that his fever was even higher than it had been earlier, and Jim was surprised when he realized that he could smell tears. He knew that Blair wasn't prone to tears, so something must have really upset him while Jim was gone.
For a moment Jim entertained the notion of taking his partner to the ER, but he decided against it. Blair's condition was not serious enough to warrant such a measure, and sitting for hours in a waiting room would almost certainly end up doing more harm than good. He headed for the kitchen, trying to decide what to make for dinner. In the end he settled for some soup, knowing that his partner probably wouldn't be up for much else, but even that turned out to be a wasted effort, as Blair slept straight through the night, and Jim decided that if his friend's body demanded sleep, then waking him up would probably be a bad idea. It was, however, a struggle between his desire to do something for his Guide, and respecting his partner's needs.
When he woke up the following morning the first thing Jim did was use his senses to check on his Guide. He was still running a fever, but it was much lower than it had been and at least he was awake. By the time he had breakfast ready, Jim was getting worried. Blair was still in his room, and he wasn't getting up... experience had taught him that this was not a normal behavior for his friend. Knocking softly, Jim walked into his Guide's room. The kid was still in bed, no surprise there, and he was still looking miserable, and that wasn't a surprise either, what was surprising was how quiet he was. It was as if Blair were trying to make himself invisible. Jim tried talking to him, but he could only get one word answers out of him, and even that was a struggle. Gone were Sandburg's attempts to divert his Sentinel's attention.
Jim was unsure of what to do when the phone rang. A quick glance at his watch told him that it was probably Simon bellowing about the fact that they were late (and trying to find out without asking how Blair was doing). With a final look at his partner, Jim decided that the situation merited his calling in sick. He was not willing to risk leaving his partner alone and fining him as sick as he had been the previous evening upon his return.
After breakfast Sandburg had settled on the couch, sipping tea. He seemed to be doing better and for once he seemed to be inclined to do as he was told, however Jim couldn't help but feel that there was still something wrong. Sure, he seemed to be calm enough, and he was no longer claiming that he was just fine, but he was too quiet and whenever Jim mentioned the fact that he would probably be more comfortable in his own bed, his partner's heartbeat would speed up and Jim had no trouble recognizing the scent of fear. After a quiet morning they ordered lunch and after that Jim decided that he had had enough. He had spent hours trying to figure out what was going on but the signals he was receiving just didn't seem to make sense. Blair was quiet, he was doing what he was told and even though it was quite apparent to Jim that there was something that was making his partner nervous whenever he thought of the possibility of going to bed, he had never attempted to complain or even to express any sort of disagreement.
Jim decided he could not take any more of his partners obfuscations. He was going to get some answers, whether Sandburg wanted to give them to him or not.
Jim was watching Blair sleep on his bed, and he couldn't help but think of what his young friend had told him. In fact he was still trying to add that up to what he knew about his partners childhood. Recalling their earlier conversation Jim couldn't help but think that the most amazing thing was the fact that Sandburg seemed to be convinced that what he was describing, what he had been through, was normal. NORMAL. Jim was grateful that he didn't know where Naomi was, and that no one, not even her son, had the slightest clue of how to get in touch with her. That meant he didn't have to fight his urge to strangle her. Of course, after what he had learned, her lack of concern whenever Blair was sick or wounded was no longer surprising, what was surprising was the fact that her son had managed to turn into the man he was in spite of her best efforts.
After some careful manipulation Jim had finally learned why his partner was so reluctant to admit to something as simple as the fact that he had a cold, and he could also understand his reluctance to enter his own room. Sure, Naomi had been only a girl when her son was born, but to Jim that was no excuse. Not even his own father had been so cold. He could still remember being sick as a child, he remembered Sally being there, and even his father dropping by to check on him sometimes... and even with all that he had still missed his mother's touch. Blair had never known any of those comforts. Apparently a sick child had been more responsibility than a child could face and so Naomi had avoided that responsibility by leaving Blair alone, locked up in his room while he was sick, with no one to comfort him or even help him should the need arise. His door had only been opened to allow him to go to the bathroom three times a day while his mother left a tray in his room. It was not surprising that his young friend was so afraid of being sick, so reluctant to admit to anything that, in his mind, could possibly lead him to finding himself in a similar situation.
Having heard that, it had only taken Jim a moment to make up his mind to bring Blair up into the loft, to his own bed. He had hardly even stopped to think about it. His friend needed the rest, he needed a bed, and Jim knew that, to Blair, his room had a huge advantage: It had no door.