“Sandburg? Are you coming to this party? You’d better get a move on if you want to catch a ride with me. I’m leaving in twenty minutes.”
Jim’s voice floated down from the bedroom upstairs and Blair groaned softly and bent his head to the test papers on the dining table in front of him.
“Sandburg?” The voice was suddenly closer and Blair looked up in surprise to see Jim walking down the stairs, buttoning his shirt.
Blair pushed his chair back slightly from the table and fiddled with the pen in his hand. “I don’t think I’ve got time, Jim.”
“What do you mean? Conner gave us the invitation two weeks ago. You told her then that you’d be there.”
“That was before,” Blair countered.
“Before what?” Jim stood in front of him now, hands on hips.
Blair indicated the stack of books on the table. “ Before I knew I’d have this test to finish marking.”
“Conner will be disappointed.”
“Nah. She won’t even notice I’m not there,” Blair said, turning back to the aforementioned books.
“I think you’re selling yourself short, Chief,” Jim answered. “You’re considered a part of the Major Crimes team now. Of course, she’ll notice if you’re not there.”
Blair finally looked up at his partner. “Then tell her I’m really sorry, all right?” He tried to pose the next question casually, idly folding the corner of the topmost paper on the stack. “Is Joe going?”
Jim nodded as he picked up his keys. “Yeah, I’m meeting him there. I told him I was giving you a ride seeing your car’s in the shop.”
“Thanks for the offer,” Blair answered, beginning to feel guilty. “I’m sorry if I screwed up your date.”
“It wasn’t a date, Sandburg. Joe and I are just friends,” Jim corrected as he lifted his leather jacket from the hook by the door.
“Good friends,” Blair said quietly, going back to his books.
“Good friends.” Jim conceded the point. “But just friends, all the same.” He waited a moment, watching the other man work. “Look, you sure you don’t want to come. We can leave early.”
Blair looked up, a warm smile gracing his handsome features. “Thanks for the offer, Jim but no thanks. You go, have a good time. Oh, wait a minute.” He pushed back from the table and hurried to his bedroom, emerging a few minutes with a small gaily-wrapped box. “Here, could you give this to Megan for me? Wish her a Happy Birthday?”
Jim accepted the package with a nod. “Well, if you’re sure…”
“I’m sure,” Blair answered. He walked back to his marking, looking up briefly as he heard the front door click shut softly. Throwing his pen down angrily, he scrubbed a hand through his curls. “Shit!” he said, with feeling.
Ten minutes passed before he made up his mind. Acting quickly on his impulse before he could back out of it, Blair stood up and strode to the front door, snagging his jacket from the hook on the way. Just as he turned the doorknob, the door was pushed open from the other side and Blair hit the floor hard, landing in an ungraceful heap. He looked up balefully, a muttered curse ready on his lips and saw…
“Sandburg? Shit, are you okay?”
A large hand was lowered to help him and Blair accepted it, hauling himself up and dusting off his butt, rubbing at his hip where he’d hit hardest. He waved off Jim’s hovering concern with a wave of his hand. “I’m okay.”
“Where are you going?”
Jim indicated his jacket and Blair flushed hotly. “Oh. I…” He briefly considered obfuscating then set his jaw and spoke the truth. “I didn’t want you going to the party with Joe, instead of me,” he admitted, looking down at the floor.
There was a long silence and he waited for an angry retort but when he finally found the courage to look up, Jim was just smiling at him gently.
“Oh,” Jim answered.
“Did you forget something?” Blair asked.
Blair indicated the door. “Oh,” Jim said, looking nonplussed. “I, um, I didn’t want to go to the party, if you weren’t going to be there.”
“Really?” Blair asked, stepping closer to Jim.
Jim reached behind him and pushed the front door firmly shut. “Really. We can phone Megan. Tell her something came up.”
“Later,” Blair whispered, turning his face up to meet Jim’s.
“Much later,” Jim agreed, his mouth finally brushing Blair’s sweet lips.
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