A Christmas By Blair Sandburg by Lyn

A Christmas By Blair Sandburg - Lyn

Jim had just settled in next to Blair on the couch when the phone rang. Groaning and muting the game on the TV, he stood and walked over to answer it. “Ellison.”

“Hi Jim,” William Ellison replied.

“Oh, hey, Dad, how are you?” Jim smiled over at Blair and rolled his eyes. He and his father had been getting along fairly well lately, though there was still a distance between them that neither seemed to be able to totally bridge.

“Good, good, busy,” his father responded. “I wasn’t sure if you’d be home. Thought you’d be out catching bad guys.”

There it was again, Jim thought. That underlying hint that Jim wasn’t working a real job. At least not the job his father had wanted for him, following in Ellison Senior’s footsteps. He really didn’t want to have this conversation tonight. There was a game on the TV, beer in the fridge and later on, snuggling up with Blair in bed. “I just wrapped up a case. Criminals don’t take holidays, Dad,” he said instead. He looked over at Blair again, who suddenly looked as though he’d seen a ghost. His father was talking again so Jim tried to focus back on the conversation.

“Oh, I know that, Jim. I think you do a damn fine job, son.”

Jim swallowed past the surprise. “Thanks, Dad. Now what can I do for you?”

“Just wondered if you or Blair had heard from Steven lately.”

Another bone of contention. Every time he and Steven got together, there still remained that one upmanship from their younger years that their father had fostered from the start. Maybe it had made them both go-getters, working hard to succeed at their jobs, but it had also built a wall between them that nothing seemed to shift. Jim wondered sometimes if he should have just cut ties with his family again instead of letting Blair push him into trying to mend fences.

“Actually, I haven’t spoken to him for a few weeks. I don’t think Blair… Hold on a second and I’ll put him on.” Covering the mouthpiece with his hand, Jim held the phone out to Blair who backed away from it as though it were poison. “It’s my dad,” he explained unnecessarily, wondering what the hell had gotten into his lover. “He just wants to know if we’ve spoken to Steven.”

Blair nodded vigorously. “Oh, right.” Taking the phone, he smiled at Jim. “Hello, Mr. Ellison. Oh yeah, great, I’m great. Um, no, I haven’t spoken to Steven for a few weeks but I’ll make sure Jim gives him a call. All right. Bye.” With that, he hung up the phone and strode over to the couch, plonking himself down and turning up the volume on the TV.

Jim went into the kitchen and grabbed them both a beer then sat down beside Blair. “You okay?” he asked, handing Blair one of the bottles.

“Fine.” Blair took a swig of his beer then rolled the bottle between his hands.

“You were acting a little weird there when my dad called. You two didn’t have an argument, did you?” It had taken some time for Blair to convince Jim that they should tell his father and brother about the new step their relationship had taken, that they were now lovers and Jim still wasn’t sure it had been the right thing to do. While Steven had taken the news with equanimity, despite being a little surprised that he’d never gotten the slightest hint that Jim was bi-sexual, his father had not accepted it well. He hadn’t said anything exactly but Jim had seen the old disappointment in his father’s expression and they’d never spoken about it again. He seemed not to hold it against Blair, strangely, welcoming him into his home warmly enough. Perhaps he thought it was a phase that Jim would get over, much like he thought Jim’s sentinel abilities were gone for good.

“You sure you’re okay, Chief?” Jim asked. He reached over and felt Blair’s forehead. “No fever but there’s a lot of that new strain of flu going around.”

Blair pushed his hand away. “I’m fine, Mother, and no, I didn’t have an argument with your dad. I’m just tired.” He stood and set his beer down on the coffee table. “In fact, I might call it a night.”

“It’s only 7.30!” Jim exclaimed. He knew Blair had been burning the midnight oil of late, claiming he had a lead on some obscure research on Sentinels that he was certain would be of use somewhere down the track and he’d been a bear about getting up in the mornings, but going to bed this early was pretty much unheard of. Besides Jim was hoping there would be more than cuddling in their immediate future. He shoved his disappointment aside when Blair started gathering up his notebook and papers. “Leave them, Chief. At least then, you’ll know where they are in the morning.”

Blair gave him a genuine smile then and leaning forward, brushed his lips gently over Jim’s. “Thanks, man. I really am wiped. See you in the morning.”

With that, he climbed the stairs to the bedroom, leaving Jim staring after him, feeling more perplexed and concerned by the minute. He took a drink of his beer then set it down, mulling over Blair’s behaviour the past week. Something was up but he just couldn’t put his finger on what it was.

The other day Blair had been on the phone when Jim walked in after work. He literally froze at Jim’s casual, “Hey, Blair”, put his hand over the mouthpiece and said “Hi, Jim, you’re early” with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes then muttered something into the phone that even Jim had trouble understanding and hung up.

“You didn’t need to hang up on my account, Chief,” Jim had said as he walked over and gave Blair a kiss. Blair tasted of coffee, overlaid with a vanilla sweetness. “You taste good,” Jim said, leaning in for another, deeper, kiss.

“I had a vanilla soy latte at lunch,” Blair said.

Jim nodded and headed into the kitchen to grab a well-earned beer and to sniff out what Blair was cooking for dinner. He’d missed lunch, working through his break to finalize an arrest report before his much-anticipated day off on Christmas Eve and he was starving! “Who’d you have lunch with?” he asked casually as he twisted the cap off his bottle.

“No one,” Blair blurted out rather forcefully and began gathering notebooks up from the coffee table. “Just felt like treating myself.”

“Fair enough,” Jim replied but something in the tone of Blair’s voice had alarm bells ringing… loudly. “Who was on the phone?”

“No one,” Blair repeated and when Jim rolled his eyes at the inane comment, added, “just one of my students begging for a better grade.” He looked at his watch. “I have some research to do at the library so I’ll catch you later.”

“What’s for dinner? Your turn to cook, buddy, and I’m starving. Thought we’d eat early.”

Blair looked at Jim blankly for a minute then his face cleared and he slapped his forehead. “Damn! Sorry, man, I totally forgot. Look, I gotta run. Don’t wait up, okay? I could be late. I’ll try not to wake you up when I come in.” He grabbed his backpack and headed for the door at a run.

“What about dinner?” Jim said to the closing front door.

Blair peeked in around the edge of the door. “There’s leftover Chinese from last night.”

“I don’t want leftovers,” Jim said in a whine but the door was already shut and he could hear Blair clattering down the stairs. In too much of a hurry obviously to wait for the elevator.

Jim’s appetite suddenly deserted him and he took a long gulp of his beer. “What the hell?” He shook his head in a vain attempt to dispel his nagging concern. Secretive phone calls, early bedtimes… and they hadn’t had sex in a while, running off to the library at odd times. It was like Blair was hiding something… or someone.

Jim didn’t like where his thoughts were leading. Was Blair having an affair?

~o0o~

“This has got to be the craziest idea I’ve ever had,” Blair muttered as he raced down the stairs. He’d had some doozies in his lifetime, like pretending to be a doctor to get in and check out a big buff cop who he was pretty certain was a sentinel, talking said cop into letting him move in, convincing the same cop that he needed Blair as his partner. Hell, doing ride-alongs with the police was a pretty majorly crazy idea in the first place – his mom had certainly thought so. From the look on Jim’s face tonight, Blair knew he was as transparent as cling wrap and he just knew Jim knew he was up to something.

He knew he’d looked as nervous as hell when Jim arrived home early from work, and it wasn’t because he’d forgotten it was his turn to cook dinner. His mystery caller got the hint right away and suggested they meet at the uni bar instead, well out of Jim’s sentinel hearing. Blair had a moment’s pause that Jim might tail him then decided he’d been working with cops for way too long and instead came up with a fairly plausible excuse and lit out of the apartment like the hounds of hell were after him. Yep, way to pull the wool over Jim’s eyes, Sandburg!

He tried to calm his pounding heart and slowed to a sedate walk as he stepped off the last riser and headed for the exit door, knowing Jim would be listening to him. Jim had never eavesdropped on purpose and usually only did his rather annoying sentinel check up if he was concerned for Blair’s health or safety, and at the moment, Blair decided, it was likely Blair’s mental health that had him concerned.

Jim wasn’t the only one. “How did I think I was ever going to get away with this when the subject of my devious plan is a cop, and a sentinel to boot!” he muttered, shaking his head and pushing open the door. He hurried to his car, bundling his jacket more closely around him against the chill air, then just sat behind the wheel while the cogs in his brain turned endlessly round and round and….

Maybe I should just ‘fess up and tell Jim what I’ve been up to, he thought. The problem was, he honestly didn’t know how Jim would react. He doubted he was going to get kicked out of Jim’s bed or even the apartment over it, even Larry and his antics hadn’t achieved that, but it could get kind of tense living together and sleeping together if they weren’t speaking to each other.

Nah, that won’t happen, Blair told himself firmly. Jim was going to love it… hopefully. Shaking himself from his uneasy thoughts, Blair started his car, cheering silently when the engine turned over first go, and headed to his rendezvous. He was glad his partner in crime had chosen a bar. He needed a drink.

Just one more day and all would be revealed.

~o0o~

Jim had arranged with Simon to have Christmas Eve off and work Christmas Day. Simon was having Daryl for the Christmas break for the first time and Jim knew he was eager to make it something special. He also knew that Blair hadn’t been terribly happy initially but when Jim had asked him outright, he suddenly changed his mind and insisted there was no problem.

“I’m Jewish,” he said with a big smile and a shrug. “Not as though we’ll be celebrating anyway. I might go volunteer at the shelter, serve some good cheer and lunch.”

“Sounds like a plan, Chief,” Jim said, patting his partner on the back, and left it at that but the hinky feeling he’d had for the past week was back with a vengeance. He was up early Christmas Eve, not one to waste a day, and decided to head off early to the gym then get over to the mall for some last minute shopping. Not something he was looking forward to, all the noise and lights and kids crying and jolly Santas ho-ho-ho-ing gave him the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it, and he put the blame for this excursion into his own personal version of hell squarely on Blair’s shoulders. His suggestion of an office Secret Santa had been met with resounding enthusiasm… from everyone except Jim, and Jim just knew he’d end up with no idea what to buy his unlucky gift recipient. Glumly, he rechecked the slip of paper as he headed down the stairs, leaving Blair still sleeping soundly. Nope, it hadn’t magically changed overnight.

Rhonda.

He shook his head and took the stairs, wracking his brains for some wonderful idea, sighing dolefully when nothing came to mind. Hopefully inspiration would strike once he got to the mall. God, he hated Christmas!

~o0o~

Mission accomplished, hoping that Rhonda liked White Shoulders perfume as much as Vera did, and figuring it all pretty much smelled the same to most people anyway, unless you were a sentinel, Jim headed for home, his mind on a relaxing afternoon in front of the television once he got a few chores out of the way.

Blair was in the kitchen, his head buried inside the refrigerator, mumbling something unintelligible.

“Hey, Chief.” Jim walked past him and playfully swatted his backside.

Blair jumped about a foot in the air then swore and rubbed his head where it had contacted the fridge with a crack. “Ouch!” He spun around and glared at Jim. “Jim! What are you doing here?”

Jim gave Blair’s head a conciliatory rub, and a kiss for good measure. “I live here.”

“No, I mean, why aren’t you at work?” Quickly he closed the fridge door and hurried out into the living room, where he stood, hands on hips, his body language attempting casual even though it was screaming stressed as hell to anyone who knew him, especially Jim, his partner in everything.

Here it comes, Jim thought to himself. The big confession. His gaze strayed up toward their bedroom. Surely he wouldn’t have brought someone up there to— He stamped on that thought before it could complete itself. “Got the day off, remember?” he said around the sudden lump in his throat.

“I knew that!” Blair replied somewhat snappily. Then his eyes widened and he smacked his forehead. “Simon called. He needs you to go in.”

“Why?”

“He… he, uh, didn’t say.”

“Why didn’t he call my cell?”

Blair raised his hands in a defeatist gesture. “He just asked me to tell you to get there as soon as you could.”

Sighing, Jim headed over to the front door and grabbed his jacket and keys. “Might be a case,” he said. When Blair didn’t move, he asked, “You coming?”

“Me?” Blair shook his head. “Nah, I’ve got a lot of work to get done. School work, I mean.”

That notched Jim’s concern right up. Sandburg not wanting to help out with a case, not to mention, schoolwork on Christmas Eve? But he just nodded. Once I get back, we’re talking, he thought, even if I have to back you up against a wall like I did the second time we met. Even if I might not like what you’re gonna tell me. “Hopefully, I won’t be too long,” Jim said with a longing look at Blair, waiting for Blair to blurt out some stupid lame story about all the secrecy, so they could just go back to being the way they’d been.

“Take your time,” Blair said.

Not likely, Sandburg.

~o0o~

Through the opened office blinds, Jim could see Simon bent over papers on his desk. Walking to the door, he tapped on it and waited for the captain’s customary brusque invitation to enter.

“Come!”

Jim opened the door and walked inside, waiting for Simon to look up. “You wanted to see me, Simon?” Jim asked.

Simon just stared at him, looking totally surprised. “I did?”

“Blair said you called while I was out, asked me to come in.”

“He did? I mean, I did?”

It looked like Blair’s whacky behaviour was contagious. “That’s what Blair said, sir,” Jim replied slowly. “Is there a problem? I mean, today’s my day off. Couldn’t it have waited until tomorrow?” “No,” Simon said, standing up and ruffling through the files on his desk. “Tomorrow’s my day off, remember, so I needed to see you today.”

“About?” Jim asked as patiently as he could. “This report,” Simon said, handing a folder to Jim. “Is it complete?”

Jim riffled through the papers. “Yes, sir, looks like it.”

“Oh, good.” Simon reached for his coat. “Well, I’m done for the day. Matter of fact, I might follow you back to the apartment.” He picked a gaily wrapped parcel up from his desk. “I’ve got Blair’s Secret Santa here. May as well give it to him now, have a Christmas drink with you both.”

“We’d like that,” Jim said. As Simon passed by him, Jim grabbed his arm. “I’m worried about Blair, Simon.”

Simon rolled his eyes and grinned. “What’s he up to now, Jim? Doing more weird tests on your senses?”

Jim rubbed a hand over his eyes. “I don’t really know. He’s just been acting really strange, going out at weird hours, getting phone calls that he doesn’t want to tell me about.” He took a deep breath then let it out. “I think he might be seeing someone else.”

“No way!” Simon exclaimed with a hearty laugh, slapping Jim on the shoulder. “Are you nuts?”

“Maybe,” Jim admitted.

“Tell you what, why don’t we go have that drink with Blair? Maybe I can get him to open up about what’s going on with him.”

“Thanks, Simon, I’d appreciate that.” Jim put his hand in his pocket to find his keys and remembered the gift for Rhonda he’d stuffed in there. Passing her desk, he set it down. “Rhonda’s Secret Santa,” he said by way of explanation.

“Bring it with you, “Simon said, motioning Jim out the door. “Much nicer if you give it to her personally when you see her next.”

As it happened, Simon pulled out of the parking garage first and Jim followed. Jim tried not to think about Blair and the way he’d been acting but his stubborn mind refused to give up. He was so immersed in his thoughts, he just caught a glimpse of a woman on the sidewalk being roughly shoved to the ground by a young man in a hooded jacket, who then grabbed at her purse and took off down the street. Reacting naturally, Jim steered to the side of the road, leapt out and took off in pursuit.

~o0o~

Simon didn’t bother to wait for Jim outside the apartment building. It was too cold and if he headed straight up, he could give Blair a heads up on Jim’s imminent arrival and get a warming glass of egg nog inside him.

He shook his head, smiling as he approached Jim and Blair’s apartment, hearing the muted sounds of Christmas music coming from within. “Jim’s a sentinel, remember, Sandburg,” he muttered. He didn’t bother to knock, tried the door handle and opened the door. “Merry Christmas!” he boomed, laughing as Blair spun toward him, mouth agape in surprise.

“Simon! You scared me half to death,” Blair admonished as he hurried over, wrapping Simon in a hug that the captain endured stoically. It was Christmas after all. Blair looked around Simon. “Where’s Jim?” he asked in a stage whisper.

“Should be up in a second,” Simon said, extricating himself from Blair’s embrace and hanging up his coat. He shook a finger at Blair. “Next time you want me to get you out of a tight spot, warn me in advance, okay?”

“Oh god, sorry about that!” Blair looked sheepish. “I was gonna call you as soon as Jim left but then Joel called and Henri showed up and—“

“Later, Sandburg,” Simon interjected, “or Jim will be here and we’ll still be standing in the doorway.” He rubbed his hands together. “Why don’t you get things organized while I get myself some eggnog and something to eat.”

Blair sketched him a salute. “Gotcha!”

Twenty minutes later, with no sign of Jim, and no response to his calls to Jim’s cell phone, Blair headed over to Simon. “I’m going out to look for him,” he said, pulling on his coat. “Something must have happened to him.”

Simon nodded. “I’ll get Communications to try his radio first then I’ll come with you.” Message sent to the radio room, Simon headed to the door with Blair right behind him.

~o0o~

This was not the way Jim wanted to finish his precious day off. His clothes were soaked and filthy, with one knee of his good jeans torn and bloody from where he’d skidded along the pavement as he dived on the escaping purse snatcher. He was chilled to the bone from having to wait for ten minutes in the freezing cold before a uniformed car was able to get there and take the perp off his hands. Grumbling all the way up in the elevator, Jim limped down the hallway to his apartment and shoved open the front door… to see Blair tumbling backwards as the door hit him square in the chest.

Jim stared. Blair sat up, gingerly rubbing at his ribs. “Ouch!” Then he grinned, his discomfort seemingly forgotten. “Jim! Thank god you’re okay! Look, everybody, Jim’s here!”

“What the…” Allowing Blair to use his hand to pull himself to his feet, Jim gaped as familiar people stepped out from behind doors and peeked their heads out from the kitchen. “Merry Christmas,” they shouted.

“What’s going on, Sandburg?” Jim asked, dumbfounded.

“What does it look like?” Blair replied, wrapping Jim in a tight embrace. “It’s a surprise Christmas party.” Suddenly he spun on his heels and raked his gaze over the laughing throng of people. “Joel?”

Joel Taggart wandered out of the kitchen, a plate piled high with food in one hand. “Hey, Blair. Oh! Merry Christmas, Jim,” he said around a mouthful of food.

“Weren’t you on lookout duty?” Blair asked.

“I was starving!” Joel declared with not a hint of apology in his tone, “and it was freezing out there!”

“Tell me about it,” Jim said, looking down at his clothes but he suddenly felt a lot warmer when he looked at Blair’s smiling face. “You want to tell me about it, Chief?”

Blair shrugged. “I just wanted to do something nice for you, for Christmas, seeing you have to work tomorrow.”

“So all that sneaking around?” Jim asked as he looped his arm through Blair’s and headed for the stairs to change, shaking hands and exchanging Christmas wishes on the way.

“Oh, that’s your other surprise!” Blair exclaimed. He called up the steps to the loft bedroom, “You can come out now, guys!”

Jim couldn’t stop smiling as three people began to make their way down the steps toward them. “Steven! Dad! Oh wow, Sally?”

Blair nimbly side-stepped out of the way as Jim’s family reached out and pulled Jim into a group hug.

“Merry Christmas, son,” William Ellison said, “and to you too, Blair! Mission accomplished, eh?”

Blair theatrically wiped his brow and grinned as Steven shook his hand. “Not without a few stumbling blocks.” He looked at Jim then, his eyes glistening. “Merry Christmas, Jim.”

Jim waited till his family had headed down the stairs then took Blair in his arms and kissed him deeply, uncaring of the crowd watching and good-naturedly waving off the cheers and whistles. “Thank you,” he said, pulling back at last and gazing at Blair. “I love you.”

“Ditto, man, ditto,” Blair replied, then he slapped Jim’s backside and pointed up the stairs. “Go get changed, you have guests waiting.”

~o0o~

Blair woke to something nuzzling at his ear and Jim’s whispered, “Time to wake up, Chief.” Groaning, Blair rolled over onto his back, yawned and stretched.

“What time is it?” he mumbled, squinting up at Jim, who was still leaning over him, supporting himself on one arm.

“Time for me to go to work,” Jim replied.

Blair pulled at Jim’s arm, toppling him forward so they were chest to chest, nose to nose. “Come back to bed,” he invited, running his fingers down Jim’s cheek. “You can give me my Christmas present again.”

Jim kissed the tip of Blair’s nose then his mouth. “No can do, babe. I’ll be late.” He pulled back and pulled on his bathrobe. Downstairs, there was a loud knocking at the front door.

“Oh man, who on earth would that be at this hour?” Blair grumbled, sitting up and swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

Jim grinned. “Get dressed, I’ll get the door. I think it might be your other Christmas gift.”

“Really?” Suddenly animated, Blair started pulling on his clothes. “I’ll come wash your back in a minute,” he said, wiggling his eyebrows lasciviously.

“That might not be such a good idea,” Jim said cryptically as he headed down the stairs. “Get a move on, Sandburg.”

By the time Blair made it downstairs, Jim was already in the shower. He looked around the living room and under the Christmas tree but could find no other gifts addressed to him. “Hmm, weird,” he muttered. Grinning, he walked over to the bathroom and was about to open the door when he saw movement in the kitchen from the corner of his eye. “Who’s there?” he called out, heart in his mouth.

Naomi Sandburg glided out of the kitchen and toward him, her arms outstretched, a huge smile on her face. “Surprise!”

Blair wrapped his arms around her and hugged her tightly. “Looks like Jim had a few surprises up his sleeve too. Mom, it’s so good to see you.”

End

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Notes: Many thanks as always to Annie for the beta – and catching silly mistakes. Happy holidays to all!