Disclaimer: CSI and its related characters belong to CBS, Alliance Atlantis, and the show's creators; no copyright infringement is intended.

A/N: A big thank you goes out to beaujolais, for the continuing help and encouragement. Any mistakes are solely my own.

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Down for the Count

The day had started out dull and uneventful, so why had it turned into an evening full of misery? Far be it for anyone to underestimate the Las Vegas atmosphere, as one never full of revelry and malicious endeavors. Jim never did. It wasn't in his crime-fighting nature to do that.

Never underestimate your surroundings, and least of all become complacent; that is, unless you're under the effects of some very powerful cold medicine.

Should've taken a longer nap . . . And no amount of arguing with oneself would change that now, could it?

Well, maybe trying to clear one's head would do the trick. Except, that was a bit difficult considering he was nursing a small bump on the back of his head after being knocked out by a . . . what the hell was that thing, anyway? Not really important now, was it? Later maybe?

No, I suppose not.

"What the hell happened?" Lara Cohen had been standing there for approximately ten minutes, and there was still no response from Jim. That was causing her some concern.

She just happened to be on her way home, from a rather stressful mid-shift and thought she'd surprise him by dropping by. There were times when their schedules conflicted and it didn't allow them the luxury of enjoying each other's company. This evening she intended on making up for some of that lost time – with Jim's help, of course. However, at this moment it seemed something else was distracting him enough that he had yet to notice her.

Eventually Jim realized that someone else was in the living room with him. "What?"

"You. Pale. In some pain."

"Wait a minute . . . Not sure if I'm up to playing your version of charades."

"Of course you aren't." Lara walked away from him, into the kitchen and rummaged around in the freezer for an ice pack. While there, her mind kicked into gear – must've been injured on the job, damn fool, didn't even take a trip to the hospital. She cleared her throat and called out to him, "Jim, I've been trying to get your attention the minute I walked through your front door."

"You have? Ow! Feels like I've been knocked out into the middle of next week."

Trying to stand up wasn't the best thought out plan. Jim sank slowly back down onto the couch and shut his eyes tight, willing the dull throb out of his head. With a grimace and a very audible gasp, the lights were turned up from their dim setting. "I had them on low for a reason."

"What . . . atmosphere. Jim, you still haven't answered my question," she asked, sliding in next to the injured man and pressing the ice-pack a little too roughly on his head. "Have you gotten this checked out? I mean, you might have a concussion."

"Hey, not so rough," he hissed, grabbing the cold-pack out of her hand and settling down deeper into the cushions of the couch. "It, uh . . . It wasn't the criminal element that conked me on my head."

"Okay, now you've completely lost me." Lara tilted her head to the side, and a worried look crossed her features. "Look, something happened because you're obviously in some pain."

"Damn, the cold medicine is wearing off. I've also got a huge sinus headache. And, no, I haven't been to work this morning. I was . . . well–"

"That would mean the weapon of your near-demise is around her somewhere, isn't it?" Lara had truly read his mind, and a soft smile played on her lips at his embarrassment.

"Not funny. Hey, where is the comfort when I really need it?" Jim winced again at the sight of her slight smile and the flush on his cheeks and neck grew a deeper shade of red. "I could've been killed and all you can do is sit there and have a giggle, even though I'm in pain? Seriously, my head is hurting like a . . . a, ah hell."

"Like you've been knocked unconscious into the middle of next week?"

"I appreciate the reminder. Now, I think I'll go lie down for several days."

"So, where is it?" She helped him to his feet and down the length of the hallway to his bedroom.

He ignored her for the next few minutes and the entire time he sensed her amused stare on him, as he moved around the room, and stripped out of his T-shirt and blue jeans. Donning a pair of sweat pants, he looked up to see that she had moved further into the room and was blocking him from settling into bed.

This being sick is hampering my detecting skills. I wasn't able to prevent myself from getting a good wallop on the head this afternoon, and now I wasn't even aware that Lara is standing right in front of me.

"I'm not . . . Whoa! Hey, that . . . " Defending himself, Jim backed up into the edge of the bed. "No, no, not there."

Suddenly he was oblivious to the pounding headache, and very aware of the relentless tickling torture, he was being subjected to.

"I hear the best thing to take your mind off the pain is to distract your mind from it." Lara continued her assault, and finally after much struggling from her companion they tumbled onto the bed.

Jim gasped for breath, rolled onto his back and grimaced as another dull throb traveled across his tired eyes. "I'll get you back for that. On second thought, make that later. I'll just close my eyes for a second or two."

"No, you need your rest. Here, get under the covers." Lara helped him get under the sheets, and leant down to place a soft kiss on his warm forehead.

"Nice to know you care after that attack."

"I do care. It's just that I like to torture you once in a while."

"Admitting it is your first step to recovery. Now, don't do it again. Not feeling so good."

He felt the bed sink down and opened his eyes, he watched her for a few minutes trying to read her expression.

"Yes, I know. Sorry about that." She took his hand in hers and squeezed. "Let me make it up to you. I'll stay here, keep you company, so if you need anything just holler."

"You don't have to. I'm a big boy now; I can pretty much handle things on my own. Well, maybe not that new cappuccino machine Hodges gave me for Christmas last year."

"I insist."

"Fine. Thanks for being here, Lara. Truly appreciate–"

"No problem. The burning question is . . . what happened to you this afternoon? You ever gonna answer that?"

A subtle grimace showed on his features, and he shifted uncomfortably under the sheets. Unable to hold her gaze, Jim finally answered the question in a hurried whisper.

"Slippedonapacketofketchup."

"You what?"

"I uh . . . You're a detective, go investigate the crime scene." Jim grunted and turned on his side, a sigh escaping his lips.

Lara let out a sigh of her own only hers was louder. Still somewhat confused, she stood and pulled the blanket up a bit more on Jim's shoulder, then walked slowly to the door. She hesitated at the threshold, then turned around and raised an eyebrow. "Wait . . . you own a cappuccino machine?" Jim groaned in response. Taking that as her cue to leave, she left the door partially open and wandered down to the living room to "investigate".

A slight trail of blood, or what looked like it, greeted her near the couch and she edged closer to it to get a better look. Lara knelt down and a thought occurred to her. She had seen Gil Grissom do it on occasion and it seemed like an unorthodox way of using one's senses during an investigation. She dipped her finger into the reddish substance, then took a quick whiff of it. Her eyes widened when the familiar tangy scent assaulted her olfactory senses.

"Ketchup?"

Her eyes unfocused on her finger and refocused on a white object lying a few feet away from her. There was the culprit. Her companion had almost been killed by a condiment packet. Shaking her head, she straightened. Feeling a familiar sensation rising up from the pit of her stomach, she burst into laughter.

Down the hall in his darkened bedroom, Jim turned onto his back again and sighed a deep, long sigh over her amusement at his expense.

"Captain Jim Brass is knocked out by a condiment. This is too good not to–"

He smiled at the sound of her laughter, then frowned. "Don't you dare!" Jim cut her off, before she got a chance to finish.

-Fin