Health Hazard

Blair studied his new used treadmill. He'd spotted it in the paper for less than $200, and it appeared to be in pristine condition. It was the first piece of exercise equipment he'd purchased, but the foot chase he'd been in last week convinced him that he needed to do something to improve his speed and stamina if he was to remain in the field with Jim. Unfortunately, going to school AND working with Jim left him little spare time to work out -- actually, it left him NO spare time.

So he decided that he could combine a couple of activities. Run the treadmill while recording his research logs or reading a journal.

The treadmill was a spacesaver design, folding up to minimize its occupation of floor space while not in use. His room was small, so he'd decided to turn the treadmill with the back toward the closet. During use, he could just open the closet and set it halfway inside the closet. He'd had to do a bit of rearranging in the closet, but it looked like it would work out. Then, when he wasn't using the machine, he'd fold it up and have unimpeded access to his closet.

Time to give it a spin. He glanced at the clock. 5:30. Jim would be home in about half an hour, which gave Blair just enough time to briefly test the machine and start dinner.

He looked down at his feet and wiggled his bare toes. Okay, so he'd need athletic shoes, but, unfortunately, those had gotten muddy walking across campus in the rain. They were drying off in the corner, and he'd have to wait until the mud dried before he could brush them off.

Okay, so he could do it barefoot just this once It would only be for a few seconds, anyway.

Stepping on the tread, he turned the machine to a brisk walk. As the thing started to move, he almost lost his balance, but then he found the rhythm and discovered that he kind of liked the treadmill.

He increased the speed a notch, his legs moving smoothly over the tread.


*Oh Damn.* He looked to the French doors and then moved his hand to the console to turn it off, but that momentary distraction set him off balance. He hadn't realized just how fast the tread was moving and he teetered, then did an admirable dance to stay upright.

But he failed. Loosing his footing altogether, he was swept into the closet, catching the edge of his left foot on the belt as he sailed into the clothes hanging from the rod. With a thud, he slammed into the wall, but recovered quickly and hobbled out of the closet.

*Man, that was STUPID.*

And, shit, he'd scratched his foot. Now to see just how badly...

*Holy shit, I'm bleeding to death!* His jaw slackened in momentary shock as he spotted the deep, three-inch gash in his foot. He'd ripped the flesh wide open, and blood gushed out, dribbling onto the floor.

"Shit, shit, shit!" He grabbed a stray sock from the floor and wrapped it around his foot, then hopped toward the doorway, leaving a trail of blood.

"Oh hell." He grabbed the mate to the sock he was holding around his wound and wiped up the drops of blood that escaped the pressure, then hopped to the bathroom, stooping over to clean up the trail following him. He was only marginally successful, and his cleaning efforts only hampered his progress to the bathroom. Jim would kill him. Blood stains were murder to get out of wood.

*First things first.* He had to stop himself from bleeding to death. He decided to forget about his trail and just focus on getting to the bathroom, which he did with amazing speed. Perching himself on the toilet seat, he dropped the bloodied socks on the floor and looked at the foot a bit more closely. Now that he saw the extent of the damage, he thought it should probably hurt a bit more. Remarkably, it still felt like only a scratch. Shock, probably.

*Thank God for shock!*

But he was making a nice puddle of blood on the white bathroom tile. *Okay, Blair, just get the wound clean, then... then...*

Shit! Jim wasn't home and the first aid kit was under the kitchen sink. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Hydrogen peroxide. Okay, at least that was in the medicine cabinet. Or it should be. Getting up, he hobbled on his good foot to the sink -- a short distance -- and opened the cabinet. Sure enough, there was the brown bottle of H2O2. Grabbing it, he moved to the tub and leaned the front of his calf on the porcelain. The cut was on the outer edge of his foot, making the angle difficult to work with. Opening the bottle, he reached back and poured half the liquid over his foot. A white froth formed over the wound, and...

SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! Hydrogen peroxide wasn't supposed to *HURT!* Well, not badly, anyway.

"Oh man, Oh man, Oh man!" He closed his eyes and waited for the sting to subside.

*This sucks!* Of all the days for this to happen. He had an article due Monday and a ton of reading to finish. Due to the time he'd been putting in at the station, he was already behind on his academic work. He had NO TIME for this crap.

*God, stupid, stupid, stupid. Why was I so stupid? Way to go, Blair. They should make you an honoree for the Darwin Award."

Finally, the pain caused by the peroxide faded, leaving behind a steady ache. He needed to get the wound dry and bandaged, but he didn't relish the thought of hopping into the kitchen. However, he had to do something. He looked at the red mess on the tile and decided he'd better at least clean that up. Grabbing the towel from the rack, he reached under the sink and pulled out a bottle of lysol bleach. Three quick squirts as he leaned forward, his foot propped on the tub, solved the problem and he quickly wiped up the mess. He discarded the bloodied towel next to the equally bloodied socks and then made himself upright again, trying to decide what to do next.

He heard keys jangle in the living room, then the door slammed.

Closing his eyes in relief, he sent a silent note of thanks to whatever deity had prompted Jim to come home early.

The Sentinel's voice floated to him from the living room. "What the hell...? Sandburg?"

"In the bathroom!" His voice sounded breathless and just a touch desperate. *Come on, Sandburg. You're not going to die from a scratch... Okay, a deep scratch, but it's just a surface thing. I think. I hope. Oh man, what if it gets infected and I get gangrene and they have to amputate and SHIT I'm going to have to go the the ER and I DON'T have time for this..."

"Chief? My God, what happened?"

Blair managed a smile and kept his injured leg perched on the edge of the tub, letting the blood drip into the basin. "My treadmill assaulted me."

"What?" Jim moved into the bathroom and inspected the foot, his eyes widening in surprise. "Damn, that looks painful."

"Thanks for the commentary, Sherlock."

Jim ignored the sarcasm. "How did this happen? Don't tell me you used the thing bare..."

"Yes, I was barefoot. Yes, I know it was stupid. Yes, I'm an idiot, but I'm an idiot who's bleeding to death so, if you don't mind..."

"I'll get the first aid kit. You stay there."


Jim was crouched on the floor with Blair's injured foot propped on his knee. He inspected the wound, probing with gentle fingers around the gash. He heard Blair's sharp intakes of breath every time his fingers pressed on a sensitive area, and he tried to be as careful as possible, but he had to make sure it hadn't cut to the bone.

A few more probes satisfied him, and he looked up to see that Blair had lost quite a bit of color in his cheeks. "You okay, Chief?"

Blair swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing, and nodded. "Yeah. Are you done?"

Jim frowned. Blair wasn't going to like the next part. "Well, it looks like it'll be okay, but I need to scrub it clean."

Blair's eyebrows shot almost to his hairline. "SCRUB it? No way. I poured peroxide on it. It's clean."

"No, it needs to be scrubbed with antiseptic to get the loose skin off and clean the underlying areas. I can do it for you, or you can wait until I take you to the ER."

"No. No hospital. I don't have time to wait hours in an emergency room for a SCRATCH, Jim. I've got a paper due Monday and I'm behind on my reading, and I have papers to grade."

"You need to have a doctor look at this. It might need stitches."

"Come on, Jim. You're a medic. Does it look like it'll be okay?"

Jim dropped his gaze back to the long, deep wound. It was still oozing blood, and the red liquid continued to drip on the towel he'd positioned flat on the floor. But it wasn't as deep as he'd initially thought, and if he scrubbed it clean and covered it, and made sure Blair kept it clean, he was pretty sure it would be okay. Hell, he'd seen soldiers in the field slap a bandaid on wounds worse than this and go right back fighting.

"Okay, Chief. Let me scrub and bandage it for you, and you can get back to work."

Blair turned a shade paler. "Do you HAVE to scrub it? I mean, if you don't, will I die? I didn't think so... so why don't you just bandage it and..."

"Do you want to risk infection?"

Blair's shoulders slumped and he sighed. "No. Fine, go ahead. Scrub away, but it's really gonna hurt, and I am, like, SO not into pain."

Jim nodded. "I'll be as gentle as I can."

Blair closed his eyes and scrunched his face dramatically. "Do what you have to, Jim. I don't want to die on the toilet."

The unexpectedness of the comment provoked a spurt of chuckles from Jim, and he shook his head. "You're not going to die on MY toilet, that's for sure, Junior."

Blair opened his eyes and looked down at him, one eyebrow quirked. "You know, Jim, you've gotta stop getting all mushy on me."

"Close your eyes,
Darwin. It'll hurt less."

Blair complied, and Jim felt a twinge of guilt in his chest. The motivation behind his request had been his desire to keep Blair from seeing the rubbing alcohol used on the large swab. If he was fast, the kid wouldn't even smell it until the wound was halfway cleaned.

Working fast, he grabbed the bottle of alcohol and soaked the pad, then he grabbed Blair's foot firmly and rubbed the soaked pad over the segment of raw flesh.

Blair's reaction was not unexpected.

"OOOOhhhh SHIIIT!" His eyes sprang open and he tried to pull his foot away, but Jim held the injured appendage firmly and continued his brisk, harsh strokes.

"STOP man! Hey, wait up!" Blair pleaded, still struggling and pounding his fist in release on the wall.

Jim could hear the trembles in Blair's voice and the drumming of his heart, but he clenched his jaw and continued the final strokes.

There! He let go, and Blair yanked his foot back.

~THWAP!~ Sandburg's palm connected with Jim's shoulder. "You used RUBBING ALCOHOL?! What are you trying to do to me? Send me into cardiac arrest?" Another thwap. "That hurt, damnit!"

"I'm sorry, Chief." Jim looked up at Blair. He wasn't sorry about using the alcohol, but he was sorry for having to cause his partner such pain. With a sigh, he rose to his feet. "I needed something stronger than peroxide to make sure the wound got clean all the way through."

A hint of redness framed Blair's eyes, and he peered up at Jim. "Yeah, well, warn me next time."

Jim tilted his head. "That would have only made it worse." He grabbed a bandage and wrap from the first aid kit positioned on the sink. "Now once I get that covered and wrapped, you'll be all done."


An hour later, Blair sat on the couch with his bandaged foot propped on the coffee table. His foot didn't hurt too much if he didn't move it. Yep, so all he had to do was not move the foot until it was completely healed.

Unfortunately, he had to go to school. He figured his work with Jim in the field would be nixed until his foot was back in good working condition, so, in theory, he should have plenty of time to catch up on his academics.

Jim sat on the cushion next to him and held out what looked to be like a turkey sandwich. "Dinner?"

Blair raised his eyebrows. A sandwich for dinner?

Yeah, something wrong with that?"

"No, no." Blair eagerly bit into his sandwich. "Pef'ctly fine," he mumbled with a mouthful. "Thanks." He swallowed and grinned. "Can I have some juice to wash this down with?'

Jim rose to his feet. "
Orange or that grapefruit stuff?"

Orange will be fine, thank you... And while you're at it, can you get me my laptop? I need to do some work. Oh, and I left some notes on my desk in my room. Could you get those, too?'


"Oh and Jim?!"

Yeah?" the voice came from somewhere behind Blair.

"I was going to do laundry later, but... well, now I can't. Do you think you could do it for me? I don't have anything clean to wear tomorrow."

Jim sighed. "Okay, but why do you wait 'til the last minute to do laundry?"

"Cuts down on my laundry days." He took another bite of his turkey sandwich. "You know, Jim. I'm thinking maybe it's not so bad that I hurt my foot. I could get used to this."

He thought he heard Jim mumble something, but he couldn't quite make it out. "What was that? I don't have your hearing, you know!"

"I said it's too bad I didn't have anything stronger than rubbing alcohol for your foot!"

Blair just laughed and took another happy bite of his sandwich.

The End