You know the drill by now. Not mine. Make no money. Send feedback.

Thanks to the Dorkfish for my very own Army Sweatshirt. She finally got home from Kosovo and got me one from Ft. Benning, where the Rangers train. *WEG*

Blessings and sacrificial offerings (well more like a barbeque) to the Beta Monster and her magical ability to improve my stories.

Special hugs to Ronnee, for getting me started with writing fic and for the halibut. Yes, just for the fish.This one starts out with a HUGE Hug to TEEJ!! **hugs the pirate and runs for her life**

Chapter 15: Hurt and Comfort

"Damn it, Sandburg, that's not what I'm saying at all!" Jim intentionally kept his eyes on the road and avoided looking at the passenger side of the truck.

"Then you seriously need to work on your comminication skills, because that's exactly what I'm hearing, man." Blair was turned sideways in his seat, his eyes never leaving his roommate.

Jim pulled into a parking spot, shut off the truck, and counted to ten. "Look, can we just drop it for now? We can discuss it when we get home."

"Why? So you can think of more ways to be an ass about this?" Blair snapped back quickly.

"Because we're about to go and question an informant," Jim said, finally turning to face his partner. He gestured to the camping supply store that they were parked in front of, for emphasis, and continued, "And I would like to at least appear like we can work together."

"Oh," Blair replied quietly.

The two men exited their respective sides of the truck and made their way into the store. Hearing the ring of the bells above the door, the shop owner came out to greet his prospective customers. His face quickly changed from cheery helpfulness to disappointment and a bit of fear when he realized who had entered his shop.

"Aaarnieeee," Jim greeted over-enthusiastically, "Just the man we wanted to see."

Arnie appearently decided that a grinning Ellison was bad for buisness, because he made an attempt to retreat into the back room.

"Now you wouldn't want to be rude to two of your best customers would you, Arnie?" Blair stood blocking the proprieter's escape with his arms folded across his chest and his best imitation Banks glare.

"Uh, no, no I wouldn't. Uh, I was just going to get something from the back that I was keeping special for you two. You know, for the next time you go camping." It was clear that Arnie was nervous by the way he kept glancing back and forth between the two men. While it wasn't uncommon for Jim and Blair to require camping equipment, he suspected their current visit wasn't for a couple of sleeping bags.

Jim calmly stepped up and put an arm around the trapped man's shoulders, effectively ending any other ideas of escape. "Well now, Arnie, we really appreciate that. We do, but we aren't here for camping supplies," he explained, as he gently steered his captive towards the front counter and away from the hunting section. "I'm afraid that Blair and I are much to busy to go camping. You see, we're working on this big case and we need your help."

Blair hung back, letting Jim work the informant for the information they needed. It wasn't often he got to see Jim using the more subtle approach. Most of the time it was a lot of growling with a few impacts with solid objects tossed in, but sometimes it worked best to let their imaginations do most of the work and make them wonder.

"Mmy help? But Ellison, I just sell cam..." Arnie started to say, but decided better when he felt Jim's arm tighten uncomfortably.

"I know. You just sell camping equipment," Jim purred menacingly, "and good equipment it is, too, but we're more interested in who you sell it to."

"I honestly don't know what you mean, Ellison," Arnie replied, trying to play dumb. His eyes kept roaming around the store, avoiding the detective's gaze and looking for a chance to escape. However, the ex-ranger had managed to effectivly block the front door, and Sandburg was still blocking the way out the back.

The ex-ranger's smile grew as he moved in for the kill, "We know there are some big name militiamen in town. Surely they would come to the best place for their survival supplies."

Arnie's mouth just opened and closed like a fish gasping for breath.

"Come on, Arnie, just tell us where Oliver is staying and we'll..."

The end of Jim's statement was lost as a wild scream came from the back room and the man in question came charging out with a large hunting knife.

"Sandburg, behind you!" Jim yelled as he grabbed his handcuffs and secured the informant turned suspect.

Blair hadn't needed Jim's warning. The original scream had been enough to cause him to turn just in time to see Oliver Wormwood come charging at him. He sidestepped as the suspect made a jab with the hunting knife and jumped back just in time to be missed by the following slash.

Without concious thought, Blair grabbed the handle of a camp shovel and swung it at his opponent. Jim watched the fencing match between his partner and their suspect, waiting for an opening. Oliver watched out of the corner of his eye, in case the detective decided to intervene, and stumbled. Blair chose this moment to swing his weapon and caught his assailant on the side of the head with the flat part of the shovel. Later, Jim would swear he heard bells ringing and little birds chirping around the now unconcious militiaman's head.

Jim cautiously approached Blair, who still had the shovel at the ready in case his opponent needed another whack. "Whoa there, Chief, I think you got him."

Blair looked wide-eyed at Jim, then down at Oliver, "Well what do you know? I never knew a shovel could be so useful."

Grabbing a piece of rope from a nearby display, since the spare pair that Blair ususally carried was in his backpack in the truck, Jim secured their suspect, then gave his partner a once over. The blood on Sandburg's shirt was easy to spot. "Oops, looks like he got you. Better let me take a look at it."

"Nah, I'll be fine. It's just a nick," Blair said, waving off his friend's concern.

"Just a nick? Sandburg, you're bleeding." Jim grabbed a first aid kit as he approached his partner.

Not one to give up so easily, Blair kept backing away. "It's not that bad, Jim. Besides we have to deal with Arnie and Oliver. We can't just leave them tied up while you decide to play nursemaid."

The glare in Jim's eyes told Blair that his argument hadn't worked. The detective kept moving closer.

"At least call for backup, first."

Jim paused as he considered following Blair's suggestion.

"And don't even think of calling an ambulance for me, man. I do not need one."

Never taking his eyes off of Blair, insuring that he didn't bolt, Jim pulled out his cell phone and quickly called for a couple of uniforms to take Arnie to the station and Oliver to the hospital to have his head examined.

Blair sat quietly on the floor and waited.

Setting the first aid kit nearby, Jim began helping his patient remove his shirt for the examination, but halted when Blair gasped loudly in pain. "That didn't sound good, Chief," Jim said gently as he began cutting the garment away from the wound.

"Trust me, it didn't feel good, either." Blair winced again as Jim applied pressure to the knife wound, "Hey man, stop. That hurts!"

"Well then, stop bleeding," Jim growled, trying to maintain pressure on his wiggling patient's wound.

"It's not my fault the guy had a knife."

"Yeah, well you didn't have to get up close and personal with it. Maybe you should..."

"If you say I should have stayed in the truck, I'll belt you one." Blair exclaimed, then winced.

Thankfully, the uniforms chose that moment to show up, saving the partners from each other's fury.


Jim didn't even look up as Simon entered the ER waiting room and sat down next to him. "The uniforms told me what happened," Simon growled.

Jim didn't miss the emphasis on 'uniforms'. It was Simon's way of telling him that he should have told his friend and captain himself.

"At least we got Wormwood," Jim said as a peace offering.

Simon just grunted his acceptance.

There were a few moments of silence before Jim asked, "What's in the duffle bag?" indicating the bag that the captain held in his hand.

Simon contemplated his options before answering. "Like I said, the uniforms told me what happened, so I swung by the loft and picked up a change of clothes for Sandburg. You know how ERs are with clothes."

"Oh," Jim replied quietly.

Simon shoved the bag at his friend, who instinctively accepted it with a grunt. "So go take it to him," he ordered.

Jim walked silently towards the doors leading to the ER and his partner.

"And Ellison," Simon called out before his detecive disappeared through the doors. "Whatever it is you and Sandburg have been fighting about, fix it."

"Yes, sir," Jim replied, then went looking for his partner.

Jim found Blair sitting on the edge of the examining table. The doctor had already stitched up the gash and covered it with a bandage. "Hi."

Blair just looked at him, waiting to see what he'd do. He held out the duffle bag that Simon had brought, "Simon stopped by the loft and picked up some clothes."

Blair took the bag without a word and unzipped it to pull out the contents. The laughter started as a subtle shaking. Before Jim could ask what was wrong, Blair burst out laughing as loud as his stitches would allow.

"Sandburg, what's so funny?" Jim growled.

Blair's only response was to hand the bag back to Jim. Jim gingerly took the duffle bag and looked inside. A wide grin split his face as he began to chuckle.

Jim managed to gain enough control to pull his Army sweatshirt out of the duffle bag and help Blair pull it over his head. "I'm sorry, Chief. I guess I have been acting like a caveman, lately."

"Yeah, well, I've been acting like a neo-hippe witchdoctor punk who should be shaken down for drugs, so I guess I can forgive you," Blair replied as he eased his arms through the sleeves.

Neither of the friends noticed Simon peek his head through the doors to the ER, checking on his detective and consultant. Once assured that the sweatshirt had done its job, he placed his cigar in his mouth and headed back to the waiting area. "And that's why I'm the captain."

Chapter 16

Chapter 14


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