Most of the characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. All others are mine, and if you want to play with them, you have to ask me first. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

This is in response to an improv challenge at the Unbound forums; the first and last lines were given, and the word limit is 1,000.

Spoilers: none


"Quit picking at it!" He glared at his companion, who gave him one disinterested glance but did not deign to reply. "It's not going to open."

The slender form didn't cease her relentless working at the lock. He grimaced. This was going to get on his nerves in no time. "I knew this was a mistake," he muttered; his voice was low, but this time she did turn, and in her eyes was unmistakable hurt. He sighed.

"Come here, sweetheart." He patted the couch cushion beside him, but she chose to sit on the floor instead, leaning her head against his knee. He patted her soft crown gingerly. "Look, I know you're not feeling too good, but this isn't forever. He'll be back eventually."

She only sighed herself, a deep, resigned sound. "You just have to be patient," he went on. "Everything will be back the way it should be soon enough."

Again, she gave no answer, but the weight of her against his leg bespoke trust. For a long time they just sat, being close, and he had to admit that it felt good. It had been a very long time since he'd had anyone to share his space with, and while this situation wasn't exactly ideal, it brought a warmth to his soul that he hadn't realized he craved.

Leaning his head against the back of the rather shabby couch, he cautioned himself not to get used to it. This was only temporary; eventually she would go back where she belonged, and he would be alone again.

Alone. He was used to it, but he didn't like it. Times like this only made him realize how much he didn't like it. He hadn't always been alone, that was true; but he had been solitary for so long now that he wasn't sure he knew how to be anything else.

Eventually hunger roused him. The supplies were pretty low, but there was enough for him to put together a halfway decent meal; he offered her a plate, but she turned her head away, and he exhaled, a little worried. It wasn't as though she had any extra weight to lose. But he had no way to make her eat.

There wasn't much cleanup to do. Weariness nipped at him, and he decided that he might as well go lie down; staying up brooding would do no one any good.

The phone interrupted his thoughts, and he picked it up. "Brass."

His companion's head came up as he spoke, and she watched him. "Oh, hi...yes...yes, she, not since this morning...okay, whatever you say...see you then."

He set down the phone to see her eyes still fixed on him. "Yes, that was him. He'll be back tomorrow, and then you can stop with the hunger strike."

Jim walked past her, heading for his bedroom, but he barely had the door open when she rushed past him, nearly knocking him over. The springs of his bed squeaked as she landed on the mattress, turning to regard him with a mischievous grin.

He shook his head, reflecting that David really had to take his greyhound to obedience classes one of these days. "Next time you want to sleep with me, just ask."