This was originally posted to the sentinelangst-list. Thanks to MoonDew and BookDragon for beta-reading.

Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters are the property of Pet Fly and Paramount. I'm just borrowing them for a little while.

Simple Comforts

by Starfox

Blair Sandburg entered the loft in pain. He dropped his backpack by the coatrack near the door and tossed his keys in the general direction of the basket on the nearby table. Not bothering to check if he had hit or missed, he staggered unsteadily through the living-area to his room.

Once inside the French-doors, he slipped off his jacket, letting it fall to the floor, forgotten. Barely able to summon the energy, he kicked off his shoes and collapsed with a moan onto his bed.

Over the course of a long, stressful day at the University, the slight headache he woke up with had developed into a full blown migraine. It had gotten so bad that he had asked a fellow TA to drop him off at home instead of driving himself.

Groaning at the 'out of service' sign on the elevator, he started up the three flights of stairs, barely managing as each agonizing step aggravated his pain. It felt like a hot iron had been stabbed into his brain.

Now, after he'd finally managed his way home and to his room, he felt unable to get up again, even to get himself some Tylenol. The afternoon sunlight streaming through his window seemed too bright and sent daggers of pain into his brain, adding to his discomfort.

Waves of nausea surged through his body and he felt like his breakfast would make a reappearance at any moment.

Unable to do anything to ease his pain, he squeezed his eyes tightly shut and curled up on his side into a silent ball of misery.
Jim Ellison parked his truck in his usual spot and released a tired sigh. It had been a long, boring day of paperwork, and without the refreshing presence of his friend and partner, the time had seemed to stretch like chewing gum.

He frowned when he didn't see his partner's Volvo in its usual spot. That meant that Blair never made it home. Although it had been Blair's turn to cook, Jim decided to let his friend off the hook and prepare dinner himself instead. His partner certainly had enough on his plate with a full University schedule and midterms nearing. He locked his car and headed for the apartment building.

Mentally going through the contents of the fridge while he climbed the stairs, he settled on chili as he reached the door.

Stepping into the loft, the first indication that something was wrong hit Jim when he spotted Blair's backpack on the floor near the coatrack.

He frowned. Blair had taken his pack with him this morning. Maybe he had come back home and left again for some reason. He tossed his keys into the basket and had just turned to head into the kitchen when he spotted Blair's keys lying on the floor.

Worried, he bent down to pick them up. There was no residual warmth so it had been a while since they had last been touched. Perhaps his partners car broke down again and he caught a ride with a friend.

Jim straightened, placed the keys in the basket, and extended his hearing.

A soft moan came from the direction of Blair's room.

"Chief?" he called.

No answer.

Now seriously concerned, he went to Blair's room, knocked softly on the half-open doors, and poked his head inside.

"Chief, everything alright?"

Blair lay curled up on his side. Tight lines of pain were etched in his face and a faint sheen of sweat covered him. Again he moaned softly.

"Chief what's wrong?"

"Headache." Blair murmured.

For a moment Jim paused, trying to decide how to best help his friend. Then noting that Blair had his eyes squeezed shut, he first went to the window and drew the blinds.

"That better?" he asked.

Blair nodded slightly, and then decided that had been a mistake when the pain flared up. He moaned again.

"Must be one hell of a headache. Did you take anything for it?" Jim's voice was soft and concerned.

"Couldn't. I couldn't get up." Blair's voice was barely more than a whisper.

"Okay Chief, hang on. I'll be right back." Jim tried to make as little noise as possible as he left Blair's room to gather a few items from the kitchen and his own room upstairs.

A few minutes later he entered Blair's room again and used the bedside table to put down the things he'd managed to find around the loft. Holding out two Tylenol and a glass of water, he tried to coax his friend into taking the pills.

"Here Chief take these."

Blair slowly opened his eyes, eyed the pills and tried to push himself up a little. The nausea hit instantly though, his head pounding as if a drill was working on it. Suppressing a cry of pain, he fell back onto the bed.

Jim was shocked to see his friend in so much discomfort.

He sat down on the edge of the bed and carefully supported Blair's head and back so that he could take the pills. "Easy Chief, easy."

He helped Blair lay back down on his side and frowned as his friend curled up even more. The lines of pain were deeper than a few minutes ago.

Jim used a wet washcloth as a cold compress and placed it on Blair's forehead.

Blair lifted a hand and pressed the cloth more firmly against his temples. "Thanks, man," he groaned." It hurts so bad I can't even think."

Jim began to gently massage Blair's back in a circular motion. "When did it start? I have never seen you come down with a headache like this before." His voice was soft and low so not to cause his friend more pain.

Blair squinted up at Jim. "I had a light headache this morning. After class it was so bad I didn't even feel up to driving. Mike dropped me off at home."

Ellison clenched his jaw. His partner had a headache this morning and he didn't even notice? "I wondered where the Volvo was. Why didn't you call me? I could have picked you up."

Blair grimaced. "I didn't want to wait." He looked up at Jim again, "Sorry about dinner."

"Don't worry about that." He smiled. "I think I can manage on my own." He studied his partners face. Blair's eyes were still nearly closed and he was so pale that his face seemed almost translucent. "Let's try something else."

Moving out to the living-area, he chose one of Blair's meditation-CDs and inserted it into the player. The soothing sounds of the rainforest filled the loft. He turned the volume down so it was barely audible in Blair's room.

"Maybe that will help you relax. I have something else I want to try." With that, Jim sat down on the bed again and lifted the now nearly lukewarm washcloth away from Blair's head. Placing it on the table he traded it for a small jar instead. Opening the lid he continued, "After the crash in Peru I experienced a few strong headaches myself. Incacha used this to help ease the pain. I kept it all these years and it's still good."

With that he scooped a little salve on his finger and began carefully rubbing it on Blair's forehead. The salve smelled odd but not bad. It left a numb feeling and a pleasant warmth. For the first time in hours, Blair noticed the pain seem to lessen instead of increase.

After Jim had spread the salve over Blair's forehead, he began to gently massage Blair's temples. "Okay, Chief he started, trying to duplicate Blair's Guide voice, "Try to relax. The pain doesn't exist. Listen to the music, don't concentrate on the pain. Let yourself relax." Jim's voice was gentle and soothing.

Blair closed his eyes again and followed Jim's advice. He tried to ignore the headache and focused instead on the feeling of Jim's hand massaging his head and the warmth the salve had left in its path. He couldn't make out Jim's words anymore. They had faded to a low murmur, more soothing in their tone than their meaning.

The nausea had vanished and the pain in his head was fading slowly as the painkillers, the salve, the music and the soothing massage did their magic.

Jim smiled as he noticed that his friend was finally starting to relax, the tight lines of pain slowly smoothing out. Blair was barely awake now. Soon he would be fast asleep.

Blair opened his eyes a slit and gazed at Jim with unfocused eyes.

"Thanks," he murmured, barely audible, before he, with his headache eased and comforted by his friend's presence, drifted off to sleep.


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