Response to Toad in the Toidy challenge. This is just in fun. No offense to...well, you'll find out...

Toad-al Response
-- by Mackie/

Jim Ellison had just started grinding fresh coffee beans -- 1/3 pure Kona, 1/3 Colombian, and 1/3 Costa Rican -- for that precious first cup of morning ambrosia that would ease him into the day, when he sensed the soothing heartbeat of his Guide soar suddenly into a stratosphere of panic. A low moan of despair followed almost immediately. Jim dropped the packets of beans, scattering them across the kitchen floor, and raced into the bathroom to confront whatever new horror had awakened nightmare memories in his loftmate.

"Chief, what's wrong?" he asked urgently, reaching to steady his young, pale friend.

Blair stood over the toilet, his hands braced against the tank, ringlets of shower damp hair obscuring part of his tormented expression as he quivered with tension. He turned gladly into the arms reaching for him, smothering his sobs against the strong breast of his friend, finding solace in the steady rhythm of his Sentinel's heartbeat. "Drowning," he murmured in a choked, anguished whisper.

Jim gently stroked a soothing hand across the water-dappled skin of the shivering young man. Blair's wet hair dampened Jim's shirt, creating a halo as dark as the festering wound in his soul. "No," Jim whispered against the curls, knowing the arms enfolding and protecting his Guide were helpless to tear him from the grip of terror building within his tortured spirit. "No, you're not drowning. I won't let you. Just hold onto me, I've got you. You're safe."

"No," Blair sobbed helplessly, his frail body shaking with fatigue after a restless night filled with nightmares and waking terrors. With one trembling hand, he pointed toward the bowl of the toiler. "There. Save it, Jim. You have to save it."

The Sentinel looked into the crystal depths of the toilet bowl. Large amphibian eyes peered back at him, soulful, resigned to an ignoble fate. Jim tensed. "A toad?" he asked, raising his voice in startled disbelief. Abruptly, his voice regained its low, tranquil tone. "You want me to rescue a toad?"

"Please, Jim!" Blair's beseeching voice broke the Sentinel's heart. "Please! You've got to try."

"All right," Jim answered quietly, willing to do anything to stop the pain he could hear in his young friend's anguished voice. "I've just -- uh -- I've just never had to reach into a toilet before."

Blair's voice rose to a wail of misery. "Hurry, Jim! It can't get out. It will drown in there!"

"Yes, yes!" Jim said quickly, kneeling in front of the bowl, Blair's hands gripping his shoulders with urgent desperation. He reached down for the helpless creature, determined to save it from its watery fate, and the toad jumped onto the back of his hand. The next jump ricocheted it off Jim's cheek and over Blair's arm.

Both men fell back and landed in a tangled heap on the floor.

"Ow!" Blair cried out in shocked surprise.

Jim was immediately concerned. "Blair, are you all right?"

"Yeah, probably just a mild concussion, I'll be all right."

"Do you want me to call an ambulance or anything?"

"No, but the floor's cold on my naked butt, and you weigh a ton, big guy." Blair's voice had lost its quaver of desperation. "Would you mind getting up?"

Jim stood up and peeled the wet blotch on the front of his shirt off of his chest. "You couldn't use the blow dryer first, could you? No, you had to go all hysterical and helpless over a damned frog."

Blair picked himself up off the floor and wrapped a towel around his hips. "Hey, I'm not big on nude scenes, OK, but did I complain? No. So don't bitch about a little dampness on your shirt."

"And you've ruined the coffee."

"Bitch, bitch, bitch," Blair grumbled quietly, heading for his room. "And we gotta find that damned frog -- er, toad -- before tonight or we'll never get any sleep. Whose bright idea was it to put it in there anyway?"

"Some demented woman on the web had the idea."

Blair paused and turned back, his face suddenly going deadly serious. "You mean, we didn't do this for Martha and Kitty?"

Jim looked confused. "No, I thought you understood."

"Why?" Blair asked, his feeling of impending doom increasing with every passing moment. "Why would you do something so incredibly stupid?"

Jim looked defensive. "Hell, I figured we needed the break, you know? A little time to recover after all the suffering we go through in the name of entertainment."

Blair suddenly looked very, very afraid. "Ah, man, do you think they're gonna be pissed?"

Jim saw the implications immediately. "Oh, shit," he breathed, fear taking away his voice.

The phone rang, and the two men stared at it in horror.

"Don't answer it!" Jim begged as his roommate automatically stepped forward.

Blair jumped as if bitten. "Do you think it's them?"

"Why take any chances?" Jim countered with fearful trepidation.

Blair backed up several paces until he collided with the edge of one of the doors to his room. It stopped his retreat, and he grunted at the sudden pain shooting through his back. "I think it's started already," he whispered, wincing against the agony. "They're really gonna hurt us, aren't they?"

Jim sighed. "Don't they always?"

On the other side of the loft, the phone rang again, filling the silence with dreadful portent.

"We just won't answer it," Jim said firmly. "We'll do something else instead. Head down to the pier for lunch. Remember, life's a -- "

"Don't say it!" Blair screamed, lunging forward to clap a hand over Jim's rebellious mouth.

Jim looked terrified, and he covered Blair's hand with his own, desperate to keep the word restrained. But the word clawed its way inexorably up his throat, coaxed into being by the stroking of the great cosmic keyboard. " -- beach!" he croaked helplessly.

Immediately, they were transported from the warmth and security of the loft to the storm-tossed coastline where it their unendurable agonies could begin anew.

In the cluttered comfort of Blair's room, the errant toad smiled in grim satisfaction. She'd upset the schedule of the smarm mavens, delivering their subjects early to resume their torment. The toad could not endure the torture of waiting...waiting...waiting for the next installment.

"Write-it, write-it," she croaked, and dined on a passing fly.

The End