Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Everyday Life Series

Summary: Blair's had a bad day. Companion piece to After the Mean, Nasty Test by Robyn.

Study Break
by Becky
August 1998


The agonized yell echoed loudly through the loft, reverberating off the balcony windows. Jim jerked his eyes up from the evening paper, startled, more than a little concerned. He shifted forward, opening his mouth to speak.





Wincing from the sudden noise, Jim tossed the paper aside and rose hurriedly from the couch, getting more alarmed by the moment. With trepidation in his steps, he headed toward the small side room, not sure if he wanted to go inside. His partner hadn't been in the best of moods since that afternoon. He'd called once from the University just after lunch saying only something had come up and he couldn't get to the station that day at all.

He'd hung up before Jim, hearing the stress and aggravation in his friend's voice, could question him further. Hours later, just after 5 p.m., just a few minutes after Jim himself had walked through the door to the loft, Blair got home. And then....

And then Hurricane Sandburg blew in and stormed past me, muttering and grumbling in languages and words I don't know and probably don't want to know before barricading himself in his room, foregoing dinner.

That had been two hours ago.

Taking a breath, Jim took another step toward the closed french doors. "Sand--"

Both doors burst open, nearly smacking Jim, missing his nose only by inches. He stumbled back, mouth agape as a blur he knew must be his partner roared past him, the low unhappy hum of his voice marking his passing.

Okay. We're still upset. Now what?

Turning to lean against the kitchen island, Jim watched his partner pace around the front room, hands gesturing wildly, mouth moving in a steady stream of words, most too fast to be understood. Some, however, were quite clear.

Idiotic. Ridiculous. Moronic. Imbecilic.

Not knowing what the words were describing, Jim hesitated. He didn't think Blair would use them on himself. At least he'd better not.

And then, finally, another word that cleared away some of the clouds -- Professor.

Ah, must be that new class he's taking. Didn't it start today? Must not have been good.

Blair continued to pace, moving in rapid circles, navigating without paying much attention, hands jerking in the air, sometimes going up to tug at his hair. Shaking his head, realizing that his partner wouldn't be stopping on his own in the near future, Jim decided to intervene before Blair did damage to himself or the furnishings by banging into something. Planting himself firmly in the path of his young friend, he grabbed Blair's arms when he all but ran him down.

"Whoa! Hold on, Chief. Just calm down a little."

"Calm down!?! You want me to calm down!?!" Blair stared up at him with wide, wild eyes, shaking his head, loose hair flying with the movement. "No way, Jim. There is no way I can just calm down. I am so ..." He couldn't find the right word and just growled instead. He tugged away from Jim's hands, but Jim held on tightly to his shoulders.

"Tell me what's going on, Chief. Come on, talk to me. Is this about your new class?" He could feel Blair's body vibrate under his hands, shaking with stress and tension. I don't know that I've ever seen him this worked up about a class before. He jerked back to reality when Blair started talking, words pouring out on top of each other.

"This professor, he's new, I'll give him that. But, man, he doesn't know anything about being a graduate student. Maybe he's forgotten already, I don't know. It could be. He's like so old. Anyway, we get there this morning and he plunks down this 500-page syllabus and tells us to read it by Friday since we'll be tested, how did he say it, 'quite thoroughly over its contents'. That's in two days, Jim. Two days!"

He pulled away again and this time Jim let him go, realizing Blair needed to move to get rid of some of the anxiety. Hands moving through the air again in harmony with his words, the young man continued, voice rising with every word.

"Oh, and get this, in addition to that, he wants a 15-page paper by the middle of next week. I mean, I can get a paper out by then if I have to, but I don't how good it would be. I need time to research, to look things up, to know what I'm doing. And I do have other things I need to work on besides his class. I'm a teacher. I've got papers to grade and a test to write by next Wednesday. And this is only one class -- I've got two others as well. Who does this man think he is? The only professor on campus?" He ran both hands through his hair, taking a deep breath and forcing it out again.

"I know, I know, I'm a grad student, I should be used to this. I thrive on coffee, two meals a day, and maybe four hours of sleep a night. Normal, right? Sure, why not? Some of us must survive. There are Ph.D.'s in the world somewhere and they were grad students at some point." Blair collapsed on the couch, head leaning back into the cushions. He raised both hands and covered his face. "And I think I'm getting a headache."

Jim waited a moment longer, then padded over to sit down next to his partner. He laid a hand on the arm nearest him. "You done with your rampage now?"

From behind his hands, Blair muttered, a weak chuckle rumbling in his chest, "Yeah, I'm done." Letting his hands slide away, he rolled his head to the side and smiled slightly. "Sorry to unload on you like that."

Jim waved it off. "It's okay. Sounds like you needed to." He gestured toward Blair's room. "I think your books and stuff will appreciate not being tossed across your room."

Blair grinned sheepishly, rolling his eyes. "Uh, yeah, well, be glad I aimed for the walls instead of the windows. Breaking something sounded eminently appealing right then."

"Hmm. Glad you restrained your impulses there, Chief." He tapped Blair's face with one hand, laughing at the swat Blair threw at him. Letting his hand rest on Blair's shoulder, Jim asked quietly, "You feel better now that you've spouted off?"

"A little, yeah. I'm just so ... aggravated. He has no idea how busy I am, how busy all the TA's are. I wasn't the only TA in the class. And it's not like I can just drop the class. I need it. And I thought it actually looked sorta interesting."

"Sounds to me like you need a break."

Blair raised an eyebrow. "A break. And just what did you have in mind, Jim? If you tell me you've got paperwork waiting for me at the station, I swear ..."

Jim laughed, waving his hand in the air. "No, no, no paperwork. Just maybe some basketball down at the park or just a walk if you don't want to do anything that physical tonight, considering you need to be awake to study and all."

Sitting forward, Blair eyed the bigger man. "Since when do you take walks, Jim? Walks are definitely not your thing."

Jim shrugged, then stood up, extending a hand to his partner. "Oh, I don't know. I sorta feel like a nice, evening walk. Clears the head and all that, right? Unless you'd rather go back to studying. I can always keep reading the paper..."

Blair grabbed Jim's hand and let himself be pulled to his feet. "A walk sounds good, I think. Just let me get my shoes."

Smiling, Jim watched as Blair dashed back into his room. Not as hard as you thought it would be, was it, Ellison? Slipping on his own shoes and grabbing his keys, he leaned against the front door to wait. A minute later, Blair came out of his room, a bounce back in his step.

Jim stepped away from the door. "You ready?"

Blair nodded. "Yep. You got keys to get us back in?"

"Of course." Jim patted his jeans pocket, then pulled open the door and ushered Blair into the hallway, one hand on his lower back. "Come on, Chief, we've got an hour of sunlight left. Let's not waste it."

Blair asked as the door closed behind them, "So, Jim, you have any idea where this walk should take place?"

A moment of silence echoed, then Jim answered in a gentle, unworried tone. "Nope. Figured we'd just walk around for awhile. You can tell me about that new book of yours you got last week or something. Don't worry -- we always find our way home in the end."

- The End -

Note: I've never been a grad student (lucky me), so anything I said in here in reference to that is all from my imagination. However, I have thrown a book across a room before -- even left a green smudge on the doorjamb to prove it. ~grin~