Title: Familiar.

Rating: PG

Spoilers: None. Maybe the Pilot or basic previews.

Summary: Karen finds Jim after a series of accidents. Hinting J/K.

A/N: This is written between the first and second episode.

He stands at the street corner, waiting for the light to change. Idly, Jim wishes he'd brought his dog, Hank.

He feels bodies all around him, shuffling amongst themselves to get warm. Jim feels their eyes on him, looking to his face.

He doesn't like being so close to so many strangers; he knows that in New York a blind man is a pit-pocket's wet dream. It's a risk he's willing to take if standing close to others helps him get across the street without being hit by a bus.

The people around him jerk forward, and he takes it as his queue to move. He has his cane, but he still feels disadvantaged, almost vulnerable. Jim usually does everything he can to avoid feeling like this. He has a routine that he follows every morning to be sure he gets everything right. He showers and shaves and ties his tie; it's routine that he relies on.

He didn't follow routine last night.

Jim knew he shouldn't have rushed out of her apartment as he did this morning. He was angry and confused and had no idea where in the city he was. All he was sure of was that he couldn't stay there, waiting for Karen to come out of the shower. And she would've been out soon, if the thick moisture in the air was anything to go by. He'd rushed to throw on his clothes, which he realized had been easier to do with his sight. How many times had he done the same thing in his haste to run out? A sick sense of déjà vu surfaced for a moment as he remembered all the times before when he'd rushed out of some nameless woman's apartment to hurry home. Could he really do that to Karen? Yes, he could, and he did as soon as he found his own shirt from the floor and pulled it up over his shoulders.

He trips slightly at the curb. Someone beside him grabs his arm to halt his fall. "Thanks," Jim says, righting himself.

Either the person hadn't said anything or they nodded. People often forget the blind can't read body language.

Jim walks forward with as much confidence as he can muster. He can do this. Just once foot after the other. Just walk. Don't think. Don't remember. Christie's not dead. You didn't sleep with your partner. You didn't forget your routine. You're doing fine. You'll be fine. Just walk, and don't trip.

Don't draw attention to yourself.

His cane dips too low and he knows he's reached another corner. Okay, stop. Wait. No one is around him so he prepares to cross on his own. When the cars start moving beside you and the ones in front have stopped, it's time to go. He can do this. He can focus on this. He breathes the cool, fall air saturated with exhaust fumes and feels at ease. Things are getting familiar, and if he can focus on getting home, his mind will be clear.

Someone steps beside him, and sounds out of breath. His first instinct is to be weary of a possible mugger, but the person—the woman, her—nudges his arm with her elbow, offering her help. He knows that elbow.

He stands firm, not greeting her, and keeps his hands to himself.

"You left," Karen states.

Jim remains silent.

"Don't do this, don't blame me. Don't try to shut me out."

Karen's voice takes on an edge when Jim continues to avoid her. "Jim."

"I'm not blaming you."

"Then why'd you run out?"


"Cut the crap."

But it's not crap.

"We were both a little drunk, but that doesn't mean it was a mistake."

"But it was," Jim insists. "We're partners."

"Okay, so we're partners. We're supposed to trust each other. We're supposed to communicate. And we don't."

"Well, we are now."

"This? Jim, this is small talk."

Jim turns to her direction. "Well, what would you like to talk about, Karen?"

Karen's barely holding back her tongue. Jim can hear her anger fuming out of her teeth, and feel it billowing on his neck. She must've
moved closer.

After Karen takes a moment to collect her thoughts, she says clearly and plainly, "It's not your fault."

Of course it's my fault ."I don't know what you're talking about."

Karen's hearing none of it. "Christie's dead, Jim. She died and it's not your fault. It's no one's fault. It was an accident."

Jim turns away. He doesn't even have his sunglasses with him to shade his eyes and give him some sort of privacy. He must've left them at
Karen's. On her night table. Beside the bed.

"Jim," Karen says, and her voice sounds more soothing than it ever has. "Jim, talk to me."

He's so confused, and isn't sure where to start. He sighs, shakily. "I—I don't know what to say."

He feels the cool breeze tickle the back of his neck, and pick up the tails of his jacket.

"C'mon, let's go back," says Karen, nudging his arm again with her elbow. He takes it, and they turn around.

"Curb," Karen warns him, and he steps accordingly.

He's not sure what's going on, not sure how this will factor into his routine, but he's fine with that for now. It helps when someone else
is there to guide him. It gives him one less thing to worry about.

They travel back to her apartment in silence save the occasional warning from Karen, and Jim feels their tension drift away with the wind.

"Oh, and Jim?"


Karen pauses. She sounds both hesitant and amused as she says, "You've got my lipstick all over your face."

That was unexpected.

Jim smiles.

Hope you enjoyed it.