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"Black Jim"

Author: Kellyanne Lynch

Editors: Mary Kalnin, Betty, and Anne Marie England

Medical Consultant: Anne Marie England (nursing major and human medical dictionary)

Disclaimer: Drs. Mark Sloan, Jesse Travis, Amanda Bentley and Lt. Steve Sloan are all characters belonging to Viacom, CBS, and the writers and creators of the show. I am using these characters with the full knowledge that I did not create them, though I highly admire them and their creator(s). No infringement intended.

Summary: I'd rather not say. Be surprised!

Rating: PG

Spoilers: none

* Please e-mail ScullySloan@juno.com with questions, comments, theories, complaints, or words of wisdom.

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Chapter 1:
Thursday, 2:42 A.M.



A dull thumping brought Dr. Mark Sloan out of REM sleep. He lay with his eyes closed and finally realized that the drumming was coming from outside. Still not completely awake, Mark stumbled to his bedroom window and gazed into the night. Through cloudy vision, he scanned the scene until his eyes rested upon the source of the disturbance. Mark smiled.

"Practicing for the NBA at this hour, Steve?" Mark asked his son when he reached the deck of their beach house.

"Dad!" Steve exclaimed, catching his basketball in midair. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to wake you."

"It's okay," Mark assured him with a chuckle. Steve forced himself to smile.

"I would challenge you to a game of one-on-one, but it's a little tough without a net."

Pursing his lips, Mark pointed to the trash barrel, which was standing in the corner of the deck.

"Well, that problem's solved, I suppose," Steve replied, deliberately avoiding eye contact with his father. "But I still don't want to play you. You'd win by so much that it would bruise my ego for days."

"Steve, what's wrong?"

Steve sighed, lowering his gaze to the floor. "It's that obvious?"

Grimacing, Mark nodded. Steve began dribbling his basketball again, turning away from Mark.

"It's the case I'm working on," he confided in his father. "I just need some time to think about it."

Mark stepped closer to Steve. "Is there anything that I can help you with?"

Steve stopped dribbling again and faced his father.

"I'm afraid there's not," Steve replied as the left side of his mouth curved into a half smile. "But I appreciate the offer."

"If there's anything you need to discuss, you know you can talk to me. I'm here for you, Steve." Mark checked his watch. "Even at two forty-eight in the morning."

The right side of Steve's mouth curved his lips into a complete smile. "Thanks, Dad!"

Mark yawned. "Don't mention it."

"Well I'm just thinking right now," Steve informed his father. "So you can go back to bed. Looks like you're in need of some sleep."

"Wake me if you need to talk."

"Sure thing, Dad," Steve smiled and began dribbling his basketball again. "Good night!"

"Good night!" Mark grinned and waved to his son. He turned from Steve and opened the screen door.

"Oh!" Steve exclaimed while Mark was reentering the house. Mark turned around as Steve snatched his basketball in midair again. "I can think without making a racket."

Steve set the ball on the patio table and sat down in one of the lawn chairs.

"I can take that in for you," Mark offered. Steve tossed the ball into the air, which Mark promptly caught.

"Nice pass!" Mark commented.

"Nice catch!" Steve replied.

Mark closed the screen door behind him, sneaking one last glance at his son. Steve was looking right at Mark, but his eyes were glazed over in thought, his mind far from the deck and the beach house.

Sighing, Mark wandered back to his bedroom, basketball in hand. He set the ball in the corner of his room before returning to bed. He had been so tired, just moments before, but now he found himself staring at Steve's basketball. The weight of the burden that Steve must be carrying! Mark just wanted to take away the worry. But Steve wasn't ready to talk yet. Mark would just have to wait to help.

As Mark was drifting off to sleep, he heard the screen door squeal open. Mark's eyes opened. Footsteps plodded around, then stopped. Mark observed the silence as his eyes fluttered shut.

"Yeah. You paged me?" Steve's voice carried into the bedroom and again brought Mark wide-awake.

"Already?" Sigh. "Well that's a relief. I thought that we'd be tracking him for weeks! Yeah, I'll be right down."

Footsteps again. Mark leapt out of bed and hurried into the next room.

"Wait a minute, Steve!" Mark called after his son. "Where are you going? What's going on?"

Steve zipped his jacket. "There's someone we've been looking for, a criminal. And he's turned up. I have to go."

"Now?"

"It's my job, Dad."

"I know," Mark replied with a sigh, "and I'm not stopping you. Be careful, Steve."

Steve nodded and slipped out the door. Mark stared at the door long after Steve was gone. Finally, he wandered back to bed. But it would be a long time before Mark would fall asleep.


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