Get Up, Get Out
by Kimberly Workman
Summary: The morning before Jim's first day back, the self-pity rears its ugly head. #6 in the Broken Spirit Series.
Disclamer: Not mine.
Jim awoke to the smell of freshly-brewed coffee wafting through the Loft. This was the day where he had to put it all on the line. Simon agreed that he could come back to work if Jim promised to take it easy and do a light desk job. Normally, Jim would never agree to such a request, but he was driving himself crazy just sitting around the Loft. He had to get out and do something, anything.
Jim swung the covers back, knocking the desk clock off in the process. He still hadn't gotten used to Sandburg's small, cramped room. He would be glad when he was strong enough to make it upstairs so that he could regain his king-sized bed. Blair came pounding down the stairs and threw open the French doors.
"What's the matter? You hurt? What happened?" the questions came tumbling out.
"Calm down, I just knocked the clock off," Jim said as he pulled himself to a sitting position.
Sandburg went over to pick up the fallen timepiece. "Will you look at the time? It's already 7:30! We're gonna be late and Simon's gonna kill us!"
Jim chuckled at his frazzled friend. "He gave us as long as we need; don't have to be in till 10."
Blair peered at Ellison and gave out a sigh. "You'd think you could've told me this BEFORE I had a panic attack?"
"Well, just means you got more time to take a shower," Jim said as he pulled his legs over the foot of the bed.
"Fine, fine." Blair turned to go, then paused as he noticed that Jim was reaching for the braces. "You need help with those?"
"No, go get a shower. I'll try to find some breakfast."
"You don't have to do that, I can cook after I get out."
Jim gave Blair a tired glance. "Will you just go or we really are going to be late!"
Sandburg's shoulders sagged and he retreated from the room mumbling, "Grumpy...too early...hard-headed..."
"I heard that!" Jim chuckled at Blair. 'Now,' Ellison thought to himself, 'Let's see if I can really do this alone.'
With that, he started his daily ritual of strapping his weakened legs into the metal frames. He was getting stronger, but he still had a long way to go. Jim pushed himself up on his crutches and shuffled out of the room. Blair was in the kitchen, pouring a cup of coffee.
"Didn't I tell you to go take a shower?" Jim was exasperated.
"I'm going, I'm going," Blair dismissed his tone. "Besides this was for you anyway," he said as he set the mug on the table. With that, he disappeared into the bathroom and left Jim in the middle of the kitchen.
'I hate it when he's slyly courteous,' he thought as he eased himself down in the chair. He didn't feel like trying to find any breakfast, so he'd just nurse his coffee until Blair got out.
Jim breathed in the aroma of the welcome coffee, thinking about the day ahead. He had mixed feelings about going back. Of course he needed to get back to the office and he was bored out of his mind at home, but then there was the other side of it. How would the guys react to him? He just wanted to be back to normal, or whatever facsimile he could manage.
Lost in thoughts, or in a zone, he wasn't sure which. The next thing he knew, Blair was tapping him on the shoulder and his calm voice was floating through the haze in Jim's brain. Ellison heard him finally and looked up, snapped back to reality.
Jim let out a long breath. "Wow, must have gotten lost in thoughts there," he said as he looked up at Blair's concerned face.
"Are you alright? You haven't zoned in ages," his voice tinged with worry. "Maybe you shouldn't go back today; take more time to heal."
"It wasn't a zone, I was just thinking."
"Ooh, scary," Blair laughed as he moved away, barely missing Jim's swat. "Want some breakfast?" Without waiting for an answer, he started searching the cabinets. "There's nothing in this place!"
"Maybe because someone didn't buy the groceries like he promised?" Jim taunted.
"Right, like it's my fault that you used all the eggs yesterday," Blair chided. "I'll try to scrounge up something, you just get cleaned up."
"What's the rush, we got all morning?"
"Well, considering it's already 8:15 and you don't want to be late on the first day back..."
"I'm going, I'm going." With that, Jim pushed himself up and shuffled into the steamy bathroom.
It was so much trouble just getting up in the morning. Put the braces on, get a cup of coffee, take the braces off, get a bath, put the braces on, get dressed. It's like a week's work every morning! Then there was the issue of being forced to take a bath. Oh, to be back in the good old days and just be able to stand up and take a shower. But he wasn't let this get him down, he had enough self-pity to last him a lifetime. Right now he had to focus on the good things in life. He was getting stronger, he was going back to work, and he was still thinking about Delores. His feelings for her were becoming clearer and he was sorting out love from misplaced admiration.
But that wasn't the pressing issue at the moment. The most important thing was to get ready for work before Simon sent out a search party for them. So, Jim begrudgingly ran a bath and sank into the tub. He finished quickly, not wanting Sandburg to think anything was wrong. Strapping on the metal again, he wrapped himself in his terrycloth robe he always kept in there and made his way out to get some clothes. He noticed Blair was buzzing around the kitchen cooking up some vegetable dish, but Jim didn't say anything. He just wrinkled his nose and proceeded on.
The sight that befell him as he entered the bedroom brought a mixture of thankfulness and hatred. His clothes were laid across the bed, as if he were a schoolchild who had to depend on his parents for a matching outfit. True, he couldn't easily get to the downstairs closet and it was nice of Blair to think of him, but was he really THAT helpless?
"Sandburg! Why are my clothes laid out?" Jim's voice tinged with tenseness.
"Cause all your good clothes were upstairs and Simon wanted you to look nice for your first day back," Blair called back from the kitchen.
'He's just trying to be nice, he didn't mean to make you mad,' Jim had to remind himself. He knew he was temperamental and Blair had been going out of his way to accommodate, but sometimes his frustrations broke through the surface. Ellison had to push aside this self-pity and get on with life. He took a deep breath and started dressing. When he looked suitable, he rejoined Blair in the kitchen.
"What are you cooking?" Jim wrinkled his nose again.
"The only thing we had left in the fridge," Blair explained, still stirring the contents of the frying pan. "Creamed zucchini with peppercorn."
Jim gave a look of disgusted pain at the mere thought of what that might taste like. "Besides the fact that this should be breakfast," Jim said as he returned to the table and sank down in his chair, "It looks like an inedible mess."
Sandburg turned around, a look of mock hurt crossing his face. "Does that mean you don't want any?"
"I think a cup of coffee will be just fine to tide me over till lunch."
"Oh well," he said as he turned back to the concoction, "More for me."
Jim nursed his solitary cup of coffee as he watched Blair fill his plate with the "food." Sitting down, Blair noticed that Jim seemed distant. After about ten minutes, he tried to engage Jim in conversation.
"So, what's wrong?" Blair tried, shoveling another forkful of food into his mouth.
Jim glanced up at him. "Nothing," he pushed aside the inquiry. Setting his sights back on the coffee he let out a long sigh, "Everything."
Blair became concerned, setting down his silverware. "Jim, you can tell me anything. You know that right?"
"I know," Jim's eyes met Blair's. "It's stupid, just depressed again."
Blair sucked in his breath. "You didn't have another dream did you?" That was the last thing that Sandburg needed right now. After the blow-up over Jim's last dream, he couldn't' handle being blamed again.
"No, no dream. Just little things, nothing really important."
"Little things can add up, so spill."
"Well, the bathtub for one," Jim began.
"What's wrong with the bathtub? You didn't fall did you?" Blair became worried.
"How can I fall when I have to sit in the bathtub?" Jim was irritated. "I hate taking baths! I just want to go back to taking long, hot showers and being able to stand at the least."
"So, you got angry over the shower? That's understandable..."
Jim cut him off. "That's not all. The clothes too."
"You mean the ones I laid out for you?"
"Yeah, there they were, my whole outfit laid out like a child. Do you know how crummy that makes me feel?"
"So you don't like being helped, but they were upstairs and you couldn't get to them," Blair explained.
"Exactly, I can't get to them! I can't sleep in my own bed, I can't take a shower, I can't even get my own clothes and here I am getting ready to go back to work? What kind of fantasy world am I living in?"
"You are on one HUGE self-pity trip this morning aren't you?" Blair leaned back in his chair. "Maybe you shouldn't go in, you certainly don't act like you want to."
"Don't you cop an attitude with me Sandburg!" Jim was irate.
"So you can play the poor, helpless cripple and I have to sit around and take it? Truth hurts and you need the truth right now."
"So you don't think I can handle going back?" Jim questioned.
"I didn't say that, but if you don't get out of your self-righteous 'poor me' mindset, you aren't of any use at the Station."
"I know, I know. But what if...."
"No what ifs today," Blair halted Jim's sentence. Rising from his seat to take his plate to the sink, he continued. "Today is a do-it day. You're going to get in the car, walk into the Station, work as hard as Simon lets you, and then come home tired and happy. You got that?"
"Did anyone ever tell you that pushy is an unattractive trait?" Jim laughed.
"I'm getting in as much fun as possible," Blair said as he rejoined Jim at the table. "When you're back at 100%, I know I'm going to pay for it." Both laughed at the comment. "So...you ready?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," Jim said as he pushed himself away from the table and up on the crutches. "Lead on, oh wise one."
Sandburg shot him a glance and opened the door for him. The mighty Ellison was about to go back to work, even if it killed him.