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Totally off-the-cuff ficlet I wrote up for badtyler, because she's not feeling well. Aww! I pounded this out in about an hour, so unbeta'd and please excuse any gross errors/weird plotholes. But, people seemed to like it, so I'm archiving it anyway.

Crossed Wires

by trillingstar

Elliot's hand shook as he tried to jam the mailbox key into the lock. He fumbled for the right key, then slammed his palm onto the door in frustration and stopped breathing altogether when the door swung open on its own accord. He burst into the foyer, dropping the keys, his hand going to the gun at his hip and unsnapping the safety band at the holster.

Fuck, fuck, fuck, where the hell is he?

Gun drawn, Elliot followed his outstretched arm into the living room, the kitchen, the dining room. Empty. The bedroom door was closed, and he could see something blocking the inch-wide gap between the floor and the bottom of the door. He could hear a soft voice murmuring through the wood. Elliot got as close to the door as he could without giving away his position and strained his senses, trying to pick out individual words.

"...hope he... soon. When... thinking... goddammit..."

Without giving it a second thought, his heart in his throat, Elliot kicked in the door.

"Jesus H. Christ!"

Elliot's jaw dropped; he lowered the arm holding the gun to his thigh. The room was full of swirling clouds of steam, accompanied by an overpowering medicinal smell. Wearing flannel pajamas, Toby was tucked into bed, one hand gripping a mug and the other holding a - spoon?

Toby's eyes were so big that his eyebrows were nearly at his hairline; he set the mug down and pointed the spoon at Elliot before breaking out into a wracking cough punctuated by gasping and sputtering as he tried to regain control of his breathing.

Elliot's body sagged against the doorframe in relief. He checked the safety, then reholstered his gun and shrugged off his trench coat. He was at Toby's side the next minute, taking hold of the hand with the spoon. He started reaching up to brush Toby's hair off his forehead, and then changed his mind when Toby leveled a hard glare at him. So instead, he just stood there helplessly while Toby hacked and coughed and dug his fingernails into Elliot's palm.

Finally, Toby took a long, shuddering breath and looked up at him. "It's not the door's fault I have the flu," he said.

Elliot grinned at him. "I thought you were in trouble," he replied.

Toby raised an eyebrow at him. "Because..."

"You texted me! `Come quick, I need help'. That's what it said." Elliot pulled out his cell phone and waved it near Toby's face to illustrate his point.

Toby leaned back onto the pillows and closed his eyes. "Did you get the one after that, or were you already too busy rushing home to beat up defenseless doors?"

Elliot scratched the back of his head, then cleared his throat. "There was another one?"

Cracking one eyelid open, Toby squinted up at him. "Check it. Asshole." He dropped the spoon on the nightstand next to the mug, then pulled the comforter up to his neck.

Elliot checked his phone, and then laughed as he read the missed message: "'Help in form of sherbet. Rainbow! I ran out'."

"Very fucking funny. You scared the shit out of me, you know." Toby had both eyes open now, and he watched as Elliot took off his blazer and belt and toed off his shoes. Elliot put his guns and wallet on the dresser and started toward the bed.

"Whoops. Be right back," he said, spinning around and leaving the room.

"Don't come back without sher-" Toby's sentence turned into another cough.


In the kitchen, Elliot used the phone to call the grocery delivery service and put in an order for two gallons of rainbow sherbet, loose peppermint tea, three boxes of Kleenex and more cold medicine.

He changed into sweatpants and a t-shirt in front of the dryer and tossed his work clothes into the washing machine. The door to the bedroom was still open, and he looked in on Toby, who lay boneless against the pillows, his mouth open on a light snore. Elliot returned to the kitchen to load the dishwasher and wait for the groceries to arrive.


Toby woke up, his head aching. He felt groggy and woozy, his body hurt, his throat was sore, and he wanted sherbet, dammit. He wiggled on the bed, trying to bring a hand up to his face so he could check to see if he still had a fever. But he couldn't move his hands; the covers were tucked in on one side and - oh. Elliot was lying on his other side, keeping the comforter stretched tight across Toby's chest. Elliot was also watching him, and his gaze was so full of tender concern and love that Toby nearly forgave him for returning home without any frozen treats.

Elliot smiled then, and reached forward and gently smoothed Toby's hair back from his face. Next, he showed Toby the spoon. Toby breathed in a short breath of anticipatory delight and Elliot reached over to the nightstand and brought back a bowl of slightly melted rainbow sherbet: "Just how you like it."

"Open up," Elliot said, struggling to keep the laughter out of his voice. "C'mon, Tobe, open up for the airplane."

"I hate you," Toby grumbled, but he opened his mouth anyway.

Elliot fed him five spoonfuls of the sherbet before Toby felt full. His throat was soothed, though, and he licked at the spoon a little more than strictly necessary on the last bite. Elliot watched that, too, his eyes narrowed and he looked back to Toby's face, making sure he had Toby's attention as he took a bite of the sherbet himself and let some of it smear across the side of his mouth.

Toby shifted. "You've got... no... you tease," he said.

Elliot cocked an eyebrow at him. "Takes one to know one." But he leaned down so that Toby could lap at the corner of his mouth. Elliot kissed him softly, and Toby moaned a little.

"Mmmm... that's just what I needed," Toby whispered.

Elliot touched Toby's forehead gently, fingers petting down the side of his face. "You should get some more sleep."

Elliot helped Toby turn onto his side, then wrapped a strong arm around Toby's waist and nuzzled his neck.

"Know any lullabies?" Toby joked.

Elliot kept surprising him: he started to hum, and Toby fell asleep.


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