Author-Sherrylou and Author-LindaS
Peace on Earth
by Sherrylou and LindaS
Summary: It's Christmas time and Jim is under the weather...um, under the blanket. This short story was included in the 2002 Christmas Cards to my SA listsibs.
Notes: This story can be read on its own, but does follow two previous Christmas stories: The Christmas Carolers and O Christmas Tree.
Disclaimer: We really wanted Jim and Blair for Christmas...but they're still not ours!
The twinkling of the Christmas tree lights burned into his retinas, even with his eyes closed. And from outside, the wails of a screeching cat -- at least he thought it was a cat, though the disharmonious howling sounded suspiciously like *Deck the Halls* -- raked painfully across his eardrums. Jim groaned softly as he rolled over and burrowed himself deeper into the cushions, pressing himself against the back of the couch and wishing he could somehow crawl inside the sofa and escape the strident noise. With a trembling hand, he pulled the quilt over his head. God, he hated being sick.
He didn't need the hand on his shoulder and the dipping of the cushion to tell him who was invading his space. An unwelcome invasion since everything hurt: his head, his eyes, his back, all his joints, his teeth and even his hair. It was like his body decided to throw a revolution and he found himself in exile, with no control over his anatomy.
Too weak to protest, he felt the quilt pulled back as a hand found its way to his forehead.
"Your temp seems higher," the voice echoed oddly through his head, and Jim winced as the sound continued. He didn't care what was said even though words like "store," "acetaminophen" and "back in a minute" seemed to briefly register before being discarded by his brain. Footsteps receded and the glaringly loud snick of the door's lock told him that he was alone in the loft...alone with the screaming banshee from hell right outside the building.
As the caterwauling seemed to increase in intensity, Jim once again drew the blanket over his head. The screeching sound knifed through his head until he was sure it would cleave in two. Giving a loud moan, Jim threw off the blanket and struggled to his feet. Staggering into the kitchen, he opened the lower cabinet and drew out the plastic bucket. Peace. He needed some peace and quiet.
A painful high pitch yowl pierced his eardrums; and dizzy, he swayed in front of the sink, nearly dropping the bucket. Rising nausea caused a pause in his plan as he struggled to place the pail in the sink. A few shaky breaths quelled the sick feeling and he turned on the faucet.
Tired of standing, he slowly lowered his body to the cool floor, resting his head against the wooden cabinet. With a momentary lull in the piercing cries, he found himself drifting off, until a cat-like scream startled him, jerking him awake. Ignoring the water now on the floor, Jim pulled himself up, determined to complete his mission.
Turning off the water, he grabbed the now too-full bucket from the sink and made his way to the balcony, unconcerned as the water sloshed and spilled across the floor. Opening the door to the outside, the cold, biting wind was painful on his bare flesh, but not as painful as that sound accosting his ears. Bleary-eyed and unable to focus on his intended victim, he tuned in on the direction of the sound and, with his last ounce of strength, heaved the content of the bucket. Jim listened to the whoosh of the water, a sudden surprised shriek and then blessed silence. Sinking down onto the snow-laden balcony, he reveled in the quiet.
Shifting the packages to his left arm, Blair pulled out the key to the loft. He couldn't help shaking his head over the scene he'd left below. He couldn't believe what had happened in front of Colette's, a small shop located on the ground level of their building. Each year at this time of the season, the co-op invited The Prospect Park Christmas Carolers to entertain the shoppers. He was just walking past when water thrown from somewhere above nailed Jim's and his personal favorite caroler, who they had dubbed the "Edith Bunker" wannabe. She was soaked from head to toe.
Blair chuckled a bit, remembering the comical sight, and then bit his lip in remorse. *Man, I know that some of the notes she hits sound like fingernails scraping across a chalkboard, but what's the harm? Some people can be real scrooges.*
Opening the front door, he found himself confronted by the icy coldness of the loft. "What the...?"
The packages tumbled carelessly to the ground as concern for his friend took precedence. Barely noticing the water on the floor, Blair made a beeline for the open balcony door, but once there nothing prepared him for the sight of his half-naked friend sitting in a pile of snow on the deck's flooring.
At the sound of his name, the ill man looked up through hazy eyes, a slight smile graced his feverous face.
Blair placed his hands on Jim's icy skin, trying to pull the man to his feet while admonishing him at the same time. "What were you thinking? Of course, you weren't thinking or you wouldn't be sitting outside in twenty-degree weather wearing nothing but boxers. Man, I leave for a half an hour and look what happens." Blair's attempt to steady Jim on his feet failed when the man suddenly listed to the left, pulling Blair with him. Unable to keep them upright, Blair stumbled, his foot tripping over a plastic bucket, and then both men went down onto the wet snow.
As if on cue, a loud squeal rose from below. Jim clutched his head with one hand, moaning something about a singing cat, while trying with his other hand to reach for the bucket. Blair got up and glanced over the railing. There was the faux "Edith Bunker" standing next to a patrol car and complaining loudly to the officer. He realized faster than he could add 2 plus 2 what the bucket, the cat, and the location of the balcony had to do with the drenched woman's condition.
"Uh, Jim, let's get you inside." Quickly ducking down as he now saw the woman pointing up in their general direction, Blair managed to raise Jim to his feet and drag him through the balcony's doorway. A loud high-pitched voice demanding justice floated up, following them into the living area. Settling Jim on the couch under a pile of blankets, Blair closed the door on the grating voice and hoped that the officer taking the report would only do a cursory search and chalk it up to juvenile mischief. His main concern now was his sentinel and with that in mind, he crossed over to the thermostat, hiked up the heat, and then went to gather a few supplies.
A short time later, as Blair mopped up the last of the water on the floor, he smiled at his sleeping sentinel. Apparently, the acetaminophen, the earplugs and the white noise generator did the trick, granting Jim some peace and quiet...that and a quick run through with Jim's dials, making sure the ill man lowered all of them to below normal levels. Fortunately, Jim's brief foray out in the cold had done little harm and might have even helped his fever. It looked as though the worst was over and in a few days Jim should be up and around just in time to celebrate the holidays together.
Emptying the bucket in the sink, Blair shook his head, amused at his roommate's little escapade. It certainly would be a classic story to pass along for Christmases to come -- Jim and the singing cat.
With a small contented sigh, Jim snuggled deeper into the soft cushions. He was warm and comfortable, and his head didn't hurt as much. But what he noticed most in his semi-drowsy state was the overwhelming silence. It was finally quiet in the loft and the outside noises filtering in were muted, like wrapped in fluffy white cotton. He smiled to himself as he drifted off. Peace. Could the holiday season be any nicer? Finally. Peace on earth.
We wish you all a Joyous Holiday Season!