Blair Sandburg glanced up from the papers he was perusing as his partner came down the stairs from his bedroom. "Off to work, Jim?"
The detective looked up from checking his weapon. "Yeah, Chief, you coming with me?"
Blair plopped his feet on the coffee table and wiggled his sock encased toes. "Oh, man, don't tell me you didn't read the script again." He waved the booklet he had been reading at the older man. "I get to stay home and welcome the new OFC."
His friend gave him a scowl. "Well, there was no reason for me to read it then. You always get to run into the original female character first. I'm beginning to suspect that's why I don't get any dates."
Blair shook his head, chestnut curls bouncing. "You had that Alicia chick that lived downstairs."
"The ex-air force captain with the psycho husband? Like that was going to work." Jim snorted and hooked his holster to the back of his belt. "So what is it this time, blonde, brunette or redhead?"
His grin getting even wider, Blair read from the character description. "5'7", 130 lbs, auburn hair, forest green eyes, and legs up to here." He tapped his chin. "Says she's a professional dancer, with a black belt in hap kido. Does charity work in her spare time, and is an undercover investigator for the FBI. Oh, cool, when she isn't saving the world, she studies psychic phenomena, and is reputed to have some psychic powers herself. She also has a dark secret in her past that will come back to haunt her."
After snagging his jacket from the hook by the door, Jim turned back around. "She's not immortal, is she?"
"Naw, that would make this a crossover. This is a canon story. Or as close to canon as fanfic gets."
"That means I have to hug you, right?"
Blair rolled his eyes. "What do you have against hugging, man? And yes, it's right here on the last page. The sentinel wrapped his arms around his guide, hoping that his touch could somehow erase the horrors his friend had been through."
Jim stuck his finger in his mouth and made gagging noises. "I'm going to work, Chief. Have fun with the new OFC, and use protection."
Blair shook his head as the door closed behind his roommate. Jim could be such a mother hen. Still, it wouldn't hurt to check his condom stash.
Blair was still reading his script half an hour later when the phone rang. Poking his head over the top of the couch, he looked around in puzzlement. That wasn't in the script. The phone rang a few more times, and Blair finally answered it. "Hello?" he said cautiously.
"Mr. Sandburg, I'm so glad we've caught you in. This is the Fanfic Writer's Union. There've been some changes to today's tale."
"Changes? What do you mean changes? CarolROI never rewrites& no, wait, there was that truck scene I kept having to do take after take on. Personally, I thought she wimped out. I mean, I never get to yell at Jim and he's always yelling at me."
"I'm sorry, but I can't help you with that. You'll have to contact your union rep. Now about today's changes& "
"Don't tell me, Jim gets to meet the OFC."
"Well, no, not exactly. You see, Mr. Sandburg, there's been some grumbling in the fanfic universe as a whole about OFCs. The consensus is that most of them are Mary Sues."
"No, no. Mary Sue. Miss Incredibly Perfect. You know, perfect body, perfect hair, odd colored eyes. Tragic past which instantly gains the sympathy of the main characters, and/or superior abilities. Better fighter than Jim, smarter than you, or possessing superpowers, such as healing, or ESP."
"Oh. So what does this mean? That 5'7" of gorgeous won't be showing up at the door today? How am I supposed to handle the rest of this script solo? Play both parts?" Blair was frantically flipping through the pages, wondering if he would have to shave his legs and wear a dress to accomplish this.
"Never fear, Mr. Sandburg, we've lined up another character to substitute for your dream girl. But due to the complaints we've been getting, she's not your standard OFC. She may take a bit of getting used to."
"Um, well, okay, if you say so. I mean, she's still female right? How bad can it be?" There was a knock at the door. "Hey, gotta go, she's here." Hanging up the phone, Blair rushed across the loft and flung open the door.
"Hi! I'm& " His introduction died on his lips. Standing in the hallway was a woman of about 40, a couple inches shorter than him, and about twenty pounds overweight, wearing a gray sweater over a cotton jumper, along with sensible shoes. She had mousy brown hair cut in an unflattering style from about ten years ago, and muddy brown eyes hidden behind thick glasses.
She glanced nervously at a piece of paper in her hand. "Is this Apt 307, 852 Prospect?"
Blair had to swallow several times before he got his voice to work. "Um, yeah, yeah it is. Can I help you?"
She tucked the paper away in a voluminous handbag. "I think I'm supposed to be helping you. The agency sent me over." Leaning toward him, she said in a very loud whisper, "I'm really nervous. This is my first starring assignment. Usually, I'm the mother of the victim, or the witness in the supermarket robbery."
"I'm sure you'll do just fine. Come on in, and I'll fix you a cup of tea. I'm Blair Sandburg, by the way."
The woman wandered slowly into the loft, her wide eyes taking in everything. Blair noticed she was immediately drawn to a photo of himself and Jim, where Jim had his arm thrown over Blair's shoulders. He could almost hear her thinking, "Oh, one of those."
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Sandburg. I'm Mary Ordinary," she finally said.
Blair's head came up from where he was bent over the sink, filling the kettle. "Nice to meet you, too, Ms. Ordinary. How about some chamomile tea? It's very soothing."
She set herself down at the kitchen table, plopping her bag at her feet. "Chamomile? That's a bit too exotic for me. I usually get whatever's on sale at the market. Do you have any generic brand tea? Oh, and it's Mrs. Ordinary. Been married 22 years to Robert." She rummaged in her bag, coming up with a photo album.
Setting the kettle on to boil, Blair approached and politely looked over the photos of her family. "That's Bob, Jr. He'll be starting college next year, and here's little Sue, she's going to be a freshman. Oh and here they are posing for our Christmas card, with Scrappy, our dog, and Mr. Fluffy, the cat. And here's Bob, Sr. getting his Employee of the Year award. He's an accountant." She smiled proudly at Blair.
He was confused. This wasn't at all like the script he'd been studying. When in doubt, ask questions. Busying himself getting down two mugs and hunting for some ordinary tea, he asked over his shoulder, "So, did they tell you much about this assignment?"
"No, not really, just called me this morning and told me I was substituting today. I had to cancel Mr. Fluffy's vet appointment. I only work part time, you see, so I can be home when the kids get home from school."
"So you're not a dancer?"
"Oh, heavens, no. I'm a homemaker. My family comes first." She smiled at him.
The kettle whistled, and Blair busied himself fixing their tea. Bringing both mugs over to the table, he took a seat across from her. "So do you have any hobbies? Say, um, martial arts?"
"I do counted cross stitch." Mary pulled a partially completed canvas from her purse. Blair could see the beginnings of "Home, Sweet Home," in tiny stitches.
"That's very nice. I don't suppose you're in the market for a younger love interest, say, a fraudulent ex-grad student?" He didn't know what he would do if she said yes. Blair suppressed a shudder at the thought she might.
Mary straightened in her chair indignantly. "I'll have you know that Bob and I are happily married, thank you very much. I've never even fantasized about having an affair."
"Sorry, sorry, just trying to figure out where this story is going. Um, how about your past? Anyone threatening to bring a hidden secret to light that could destroy your happy home?"
She looked at him like he was off his rocker. "Bob and I were high school sweethearts. We got married right after graduation. There's nothing about me he doesn't know."
Blair scratched that line off on the script. "How about special powers? ESP or touch healing?"
Mary shook her head. "No, I'm sorry. Though I used to kiss my children's owies and make them all better."
Sighing, Blair said, "I don't think that counts. Well, maybe if we're lucky the RBP will be a substitute too."
"RBP?" Mary asked, confusion evident in her gaze.
"Really Big Psycho," Blair answered.
On cue, the door to the loft was kicked in, slamming against the wall with a loud bang. RBP swaggered in, his tiny pig eyes, set in a swarthy face, sweeping the room. "Where is he?" he bellowed.
"Eeep," said Mary.
"I think you have the wrong apartment," protested Blair, getting to his feet, but RBP wasn't fooled.
"I know this is Ellison's place! Where is he?"
"He's not home right now& " Blair started to say, when RBP picked up the table next to the door and flung it across the room. The crash was drowned out by a high-pitched scream.
Mary had leapt to her feet, clutching her handbag to her chest. She screamed again as both men stared at her in shock, then she dashed down the hall and into the bathroom, slamming and locking the door behind her.
An evil grin spread across RBP's face. "That's your OFC?" he sneered. "This is going to be FUN!"
Realizing he was in trouble, Blair threw his mug of tea at the advancing villain, but missed. The fist RBP threw at Blair didn't. The ex-grad student landed on his back and skidded across the hardwood floor. RBP grabbed him by the shirt and hauled him up, only to toss him over the couch. Blair landed on the coffee table, which immediately collapsed beneath him.
Shaking his head to try and clear the fuzziness from his vision, Blair felt himself being lifted in the air again, only to be body slammed onto the kitchen table. He could hear RBP rummaging through the kitchen, and then he felt the man's huge presence looming over him. He managed to open his eyes as the psycho buried his fist in Blair's long curls, holding him down. The large knife Jim used for cutting salami was clenched in his other hand, and RBP slashed Blair's shirt open, then began to carve his initials into the helpless man's chest. Blair's screams were drowned out by the sharp sound of gunshots, and RBP collapsed on the hapless guide.
A few seconds later, the weight was lifted, and Blair looked up into the face of his best friend, his roommate, his partner, his sentinel. "Jim?" he croaked weakly.
"Oh, god, Chief, what happened? I got a call from CarolROI at work telling me to rush right home. I was expecting to find you in the arms of a beautiful woman, not bleeding to death on the kitchen table."
"Mary? Who's Mary?"
"The OFC that was supposed to save you from the RBP is in the john? What in the hell is she doing in there?" The noise of Jim's footsteps pounded away from Blair, and was soon followed by the sound of the door to the bathroom being kicked in.
Feeling Jim's presence at his side once again, Blair opened his eyes. Jim had a vise-grip hold on the woman's arm and was shoving a dishtowel at her. "Hold this against his wound while I call 911."
"Oh, I can't, I can't," Mary whimpered. "The sight of blood makes me sick& " Dropping the towel on Blair's face, she dashed for the bathroom again, and the sounds of retching could be heard.
"Oh Christ, she's useless," Jim muttered, folding the towel neatly and applying the compress to Blair's stab wound while dialing for an ambulance on his cell phone.
The paramedics arrived in record time, along with Simon, who just conveniently happened to be in the neighborhood when the call came in. He took care of having RBP's body hauled away, and when Jim told him about the OFC in the bathroom, he took care of her too, as Jim hovered over the medics working on Blair.
Blair looked up as the medic was finishing taping a bandage on his cut. Simon was walking back from the bathroom, pushing Mary in front of him. Blair's eyes met hers accusingly, and she looked hastily away.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Sandburg. When that nasty man broke in, I didn't know what to do! I've never been in this kind of situation before. I mean, yes, I've been held up by crazies before, but I've never been expected to do something about it. I hope you weren't hurt too badly."
Tugging his shredded shirt closer around him, Blair shook his head. "It's okay, it was just a flesh wound. Good thing RBP couldn't spell and CarolROI hates hospital scenes. I'll be just fine."
"Well, okay, then, if you're certain. Are you sure you don't want me to kiss it and make it better?" Mary took a hesitant step toward him. Jim growled at her and she backed up. "Um, look, sorry I can't stick around, but, it's nearly 3 pm, and I have to be home before the kids. It was nice meeting you, Mr. Sandburg, and Mr& " She realized she didn't know Jim's name. "Well, whoever you are." With a little wave, she was gone.
Fifteen minutes later, everyone had been shooed from the loft by Jim. After settling his guide on the couch, he headed for the kitchen. "Hey, Jim," Blair called to him, "aren't you forgetting something?"
"What?" He opened and closed the fridge and went to join his partner on the sofa.
"The hug, man, the hug. After the terrible day I've had, I think I deserve one."
Plopping down on the cushion next to him, Jim tossed a bottle at him. "Nope, one final rewrite. You get a beer and--"
"And what, Jim?"
Grabbing his friend in a headlock, Jim ran his knuckles over his scalp. "And a noogie!"
"Oh, man, not the hair! Not the hair!"
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