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It had been approximately ten days since Sparks Nevada had been blinded in the line of duty.

Despite the rough start, he was adjusting and carrying on as best he could. He had Croach to thank for some of it, but just as much could be said for good old fashioned self-reliance. It'd been serving him well all these years, and when coupled with muscle memory, continued to do so…


Well, mostly.

He could only imagine his frustrated expression as he rubbed the material of his bow tie between his fingers. Apparently, muscle memory alone wasn't going to make this work. Which was fair—muscle memory and sight were kind of equally important when it came to this kind of thing... But it did little to change how grossly unfair it was, all things considered. "Damnit."

"I can hear your exasperation from here, Sparks Nevada." Croach's voice filtered in from down the hall.

"Yeah, you and your seven different sense of hearing," Sparks replied, the comment (mostly) without malice. "Just gettin' dressed. Almost done."

"Would it be inappropriate of me to ask if you need assistance?"

Sparks didn't answer at first. To be perfectly honest, it'd be downright helpful if he did, but was his dignity up to handling it? Hmmm-ing thoughtfully, he decided to take one last crack at it... Yeah, nope, this wasn't a thing that was happening. "Yeah, if you got a minute to spare, I could use some help, please."

The quiet, almost imperceptible sound of moccasins padding across the hardwood, a quiet knock on the doorframe. "Yeah, c'mon in, Croach," he called over his shoulder.

The door swung open, and after a moment, Sparks could feel Croach's presence beside him. "What assistance do you need?"

"This crazy thing," Sparks admitted, half mumbling, holding the bow tie out to him. "Kinda hard to do it up without bein' able to see it, y'know?"

"Understood," he replied, accepting the bow tie and reaching up to readjust the marshal's shirt collar. "Please hold still."

"Need me to talk you through it?" Sparks offered.

"I do not believe it will be necessary," Croach said, "not after having observed you do this as long as I have."

That was fair. Sparks didn't say anything more, allowing his companion to finish his work.

"Finished," he announced. Sparks felt Croach slide two fingers between his neck and the shirt collar, testing that he'd not tied it too tight. It was incredibly thoughtful, and almost devastatingly intimate. "Visual input aside—"

Sparks lifted his hands to feel the bow tie, straighten it slightly. "Perfect," he announced. "Thanks, Croach—I... really appreciate it."

"You are welcome, Sparks Nevada," Croach replied.

"...I picked something that matches, right?" he asked after a moment. "I'm still kinda... paranoid about looking like I got dressed in the dark." Which, all things considered, wasn't too far from the truth.

"It matches," Croach reassured him. "If it hadn't, I would have said something."

"Thanks," he repeated, his hand seeking out Croach's for a moment. The natural conclusion of the gesture was to bring his hand up to brush a kiss against the backs of his fingers, but perhaps he'd save that for another occasion. "Don't know what I'd do without you."

There was a warmth—not to mention an undercurrent of almost mischief—that could be felt in Croach's reply, and in the way he squeezed Sparks' hand in turn. "You would be tracker-less and have no one to help you mind your bow ties."

And that, Sparks thought, would be a pretty sorry state to be in.