Sore Loser: An Everyday Life VI
by Grey Bard
Disclaimer: Okay here goes the legal shuffle again: (to the tune of Swanee River)
I really didn't mean to steal them,
Silence. A rare commodity in this place. The sound of a familiar heartbeat and the expected clatter of dishes and glasses, but not the most familiar sound of all. No squawks and half cursing mumbles at the indignity of being awakened by an alarm clock, no faint humming in the shower, no ironic commentary on what passed for news in the Cascade Inquisitor. Something was dreadfully wrong with Sandburg.
Curious, Ellison shrugged into his robe and went downstairs. Walking into the kitchen, the first thing that struck him was how bad Blair really looked. That cold must obviously have gotten worse overnight. As Jim went to the fridge to get orange juice, his roommate came out of his misery long enough to notice him. Blair gave him a wan smile and reached for then pad of paper and a pencil.
"So, Chief, what's with the quiet?" asked the Sentinel, taking stock of his friend's gritty eyes and general air of depression.
Sandburg scribbled for a moment and handed him a note that read "Turn your hearing up at least 5 degrees".
"Turn my hearing up?" Blair nodded "Why?"
He shook his head in exasperation, mouthing the words ^Dials. Now!^
Jim focused for a second on his internal controls and turned them down until he could hear his Guide's virus-roughened voice.
Blair's voice slowly came into focus. He was saying,"That's better. I figured I could either force out a few words and break what's left of my voice, or try to find a decent use for that hearing of yours. Since my voice is inaudible to the rest of the population, there's no point in going to the U today. I figured I'd follow you to work today, get some paperwork out of the way. It can't be that bad."
Today was a slow day for the Major Crimes division. It could have been anything that wasn't related to the back-casefiles that would have attracted the attention of the bored detectives, but today it was a certain police observer's dishevelled silence.
Detective Brian Rafe was coming back from yet another gratuitous visit down to records, a thing which had become almost second nature to him on slow days ever since that pretty new file clerk had been hired. H. was desultorily finishing off his third doughnut, and was starting to look terminally bored. Connor had taken the day off, so the ever popular sport of Aussie baiting was sort of impossible. Taggert was off teaching a "How ^not^ to treat a bomb" lecture down at the academy. Ellison was actually busy with something and didn't look in the mood for goofiness. Rhonda had threatened to lace the doughnut cart with laxitives if her typing was needlessly interrupted one more time. That left one target: Blair Sandburg.
Rafe trotted over to where Brown was standing, and together they worked up a plan to play a practical joke on Sandburg. However, the closer they got to their unsuspecting prey, the more misgivings they had. Blair looked out of it.
Rafe walked over to the observer and tried to signal his attention. Blair looked up from a stack of reports, muzzily, but didn't say a word. "Cat got your tongue?" asked Rafe, but he received not a sound.
"Hey Ellison, what's with Hairboy today. Hangover?" H. asked, noticing this.
"Nope, just a sore throat." said the older policeman, going back to his work.
"This could be fun, you know," whispered Brian to his partner, after they made a strategic retreat. "How often is the 'professor' quiet anyway? This is a rare chance."
"We can't do it." replied Brown "You can't just kick a man when he's down."
"Honor. You?" asked an incredulous Rafe of the man responsible for 'the great ghost scare'.
"No way, just look over there." Brown said, pointing towards the approaching Samantha. "It's just more fun to see it happening than to do it. That's his girlfriend's job. Watch her, she's a master at work."
" What did we ever do on days like this before he showed up?" asked Rafe.
"Damned if I know." said his partner in wonder.
After his tormentress had left Blair looked up cautiously from the papework he had retreated into and saw Jim squinting with irritation as he rubbed his nose absently. Catching the Sentinel's eye he made a serruptitious 'turn it up' movement.
The detective slunk over in his best 'Me? I'm not doing anything' manner, and glanced at his partner. " You're pathetic, Chief," he said quietly. "You should go home."
Blair chuckled under his breathe at the near inaudible level. "That's what Sam said only a less derogatory version. I'll never get where she's coming from. How she can expect me to be a fashion plate in the middle of a minor illness I just can't understand. She said I was bad for her image." He shook his head and reached for more paperwork. "Ahhh, well, back to the grind."
"Are you sure? I don't want you passing out on me here."said Jim under his breath, not wanting to look like he was having a one-sided conversation with the air.
"Nah, don't worry about me. Only three more hours to go before we're out of here, and I think I'm getting better except for the throat. It's you that I'm worried about. Itchy, stuffed up sinuses were the first sign of this thing. Here, have a zinc lozenge. If you take them early enough they drastically reduce the development of symptoms."
"Yeah, well, thanks Doc, but it's not worth the aftertaste." said the policeman, apparently to his shoes, "Besides, I'm as healthy as they come."
"Don't anger the germs, man, they love a challenge." his stricken friend warned.
"Me, afraid of a bunch of viruses? If you're into communing with the germs, how about you tell the little invaders just exactly where they can shove their challenge for me. Come on, Chief, you know I hate zinc. It's like sucking on a nickel. How bad can a cold be?"
"Jim, look, I'm sorry. I should have made you take that zinc. It shouldn't have been too hard to guess that this would hit you pretty hard. Those germs are vindictive little buggers. You know how your immune system is. You just sort of brush off most germs, but the one or two you do get your body overreacts to. Me, I'm just an extremely resilient example of a normal human being. I get everything and then I get over it quickly. Generations of peasant ancestors I guess. My cold wasn't really bad, so I just sort of forgot that nothing's ever easy around you.
"No, no , don't try to talk. *I'm* not the Sentinel here, I can't hear a word you say. Here's a pad of paper and a pen. Don't strain your voice trying to talk, write what you want to say. Now open wide and take this.
"What do you mean, 'Not after last time'? I don't care what Simon thinks, my cold medicine is not what made you see ghosts. Since when were hallucinations ever that helpful? Besides, you'll like this. Traditional western medicine of the finest kind.
"All right, all right , relax, it's just crushed tylenol made more edible, just like my aunt made for me when I was sick as a kid.
"'That red stuff' is our best raspberry jam that I was saving to make linzer cookies for your birthday, okay? That's right, down the hatch.
"No, I'm not treating you like a sick puppy. Well, not any more than you're acting like one. Stop looking at me like that, it's not that bad.
"Now here, wash it down with this.
"That's rosehip tea, it's okay. No odd herbs or substances here either. What, writing again? I'm sick-nursing you as your dutiful partner and you're giving me the third degree here. What is it this time?
"What do you mean, 'Real men don't drink pink tea'? It tastes nice with honey and has lots of vitamin c, which is good for colds. Now drink it already, okay man?
"Sentinels, can't live with 'em, can't find anyone else who'd put up with me.
"Hey! I was just kidding. Don't hit me with that notepad!"