Unexpected by Ainm

Unexpected - ainm

"I still can't believe Simon is making us take next week off," Jim grumbled as he reached around Blair to get down the plates.

"It only seems fair to take the time at the beginning of December -- two bachelor partners, one Jewish even, letting those with families have off for the actual holidays," Blair pointed out.

"Yeah, I know, that's not what I have a problem with," Jim agreed. "But why force us to take off at all?"

"Because we work like 13 days out of every 14? Because we just came off the Martinez kidnapping followed immediately by the Holliston murder trial? Because I haven't had an entire week off since I joined the force?"

"Hmm, I guess when you put it like that... You really haven't had a week off?"

"Do you remember the last time we both had a whole week to ourselves?"

Jim didn't answer immediately as he left the kitchen to set the table.

"No..." he finally admitted.

"That's because it's never happened. A long weekend here and there, yeah, even 4 or 5 days once or twice, but that was when I was still at Rainier."

"Wow. Sorry, Chief."

"Hey, it's OK, I understand, and if it were a big problem I'd put my foot down." Jim gave a small snort, and Blair mock-glared at him. "But the point is, we deserve this, and in fact we need this."

"Yeah, alright. But... New York?" Jim asked, truly perplexed.

"It's one of the most cosmopolitan cities on earth!"

Blair tried to scoot by him as he re-entered the kitchen, but Jim caught his arms lightly to keep his attention focused on the discussion.

"We already live in a city. And it's December -- it's cold and dark and that really doesn't seem to be your kind of thing at all."

"It's the city that never sleeps, man, it's never dark."

"I mean, it's December, and Manhattan isn't all that much farther south than we are, the sun sets at roughly the same time -- early."

"It's the Big Apple, Jim, it doesn't really matter if the sun is out or not." Blair's rebuttals were starting to be tinged with just a hint of desperation.

Jim let go of Blair's arms, but neither of them moved away.

"I just don't understand why you don't want to go somewhere warm."

"Feelin' the cold in those old bones?" Blair grinned at him.

"Funny. It's just that you're always complaining about the cold, and the weather, and saying how you wish you were in rain forest x or Pacific island y -- we could do that."

"Seriously?"

"Why not? I mean, maybe it might be easier and more practical if you just wanted, say, a cruise around the Caribbean or something like that, but we can afford to have a vacation from the job and the weather and everything. Really get away. Like you said, it's not like we make a habit out of it."

"Wow... that's really great, Jim..."

Jim vocalized what was obviously implied by Blair's tone. "But..."

"Well, New York..."

"New York!" Jim exclaimed when Blair paused. "I don't get it! What is it about New York?!"

Blair looked away, truly seeming embarrassed. "Umm..." he hedged.

"Come on, Blair, you can tell me." Jim put two fingers along Blair's chin and gently pushed until Blair met his eyes again.

"It's just... I've always wanted to see the tree."

"The tree."

Blair looked like he might start scuffing his toe at any moment. "And stuff."

"The tree and stuff."

"Y'know?"

"No idea, actually."

"The tree -- in Rockefeller Center? The tree?"

"Oh, the tree. Right." Jim's nod didn't seem to be completely to humor his partner.

"And the skaters."

"OK..."

"You know, on the ice rink below the tree?"

"I'll take your word for it."

"Jeez, Jim, sometimes I find it amazing that you've been to as many parts of the world as you have, because it seems like not only have you never left Cascade, but that you've never even turned on the TV!" Blair's aggravation got him over the remains of his reticence.

"Hey, hey, settle down, OK? I've heard of Rockefeller Center, and even the big tree, I've just never really paid much attention to it. And most of my traveling was with the Army, which isn't quite the same as trekking around for pleasure. And I'm just surprised by this, because I wouldn't have guessed -- I'm not trying to fight with you."

"I know, I know, sorry. I just... Naomi always used to get upset with me when I'd mention it as a kid, talking about crass commercialism and wanton crimes against nature and criminally conspicuous consumption and denying my heritage."

"But you didn’t agree?" Jim asked curiously.

"Not everything has to be a crusade, you know? Rockefeller Center is now a National Historic Landmark. It's an icon in our culture, even if some people seem to be a little lacking in knowledge." He raised an eyebrow in Jim's direction. "It took the whole of the 1930s to build, and the ice rink and the tree have been traditions since then. Did you know that the entire thing is more than 20 acres?"

Jim looked impressed. "Seriously?"

"Yeah, it's amazing to think about what an undertaking it was to design and build, especially at that time."

"And the whole 'crimes against nature' and 'denying your heritage' thing?"

"It's one tree, though admittedly a very big tree, once a year, and it belongs to the whole city -- the whole country, really. And I think it's ridiculous to think that I am in any way turning my back on being Jewish because I am fascinated with the cultural significance, and the, I don't know, excitement and anticipation of Rockefeller Center in December. I wasn't asking to have my own tree -- and it's not like the Christmas tree is an inherently Christian thing anyway, though there is certainly debate about its actual origins..."

"You've... thought about this a lot."

"The tree, and the department store windows on Fifth Avenue, and FAO Schwartz -- and hey, I'm pretty sure that old F.A.O. was Jewish, Mom..."

Jim gave a little grin at the usual Sandburg spirit showing through his uncharacteristic tentativeness.

"So, Naomi hasn't made your decisions for you in a long time -- why haven't you ever gone?"

"Time and/or money," Blair sighed. "Even if you can stay in a hostel to keep costs low, you still have to get there, which takes either time or money, and between classes and expeditions and family stuff, I've rarely had both at the right time."

Jim looked at the resignation on Blair's face. "So... have you checked on flights yet? And this late I wonder if we can even find a room..."

"Really, Jim? You'd consider it?"

Jim smiled fondly at his partner. "Of course I'd consider it, Sandburg, although I'm not sure I even want to think what it might cost..."

"Actually... I have done a little checking, just in case, and yeah, it would be steep -- but there are actually some last-minute specials... and we wouldn’t have to stay all week, and we don't have to stay anywhere nice so that would save money, maybe even stay outside the city and --"

"Blair, stop. If we do this, we do this right -- and besides, if I have to be cold for my vacation, I at least want to do it in comfort."

Blair smiled an almost-shy smile at his partner.

"And hey, maybe we could do one of those carriage rides," Jim offered with an affectionate smile of his own.

"You know hansom cabs but not the ice skaters?" Blair asked skeptically.

"I saw it in a movie. It looked... um..." Jim tapered off into a mumble.

"Looked what, Jim?"

Now it was Jim who wouldn’t meet his partner's eyes. "Nothing."

"Come on, Jim, I shared my life-long and admittedly rather unexpected and possibly strange desire to see New York in December, you can finish one little sentence." His tone took any sting from his words.

"Blair..." Jim looked at his partner pleadingly. Blair gave him a smile that was both knowing and encouraging, but no sign that Jim was going to get off the hook. "Romantic."

Blair cupped Jim's cheek briefly, then pulled him in for a soft, slow kiss. Jim's eyes closed as he anchored Blair in place with a hand threaded through the hair at the back of his neck.

The moment stretched out, and when they finally pulled back a little, the same look of love and acceptance was on both their faces.

"This is going to be a good trip, isn't it, Chief."

"It's going to be a great trip, Jim."

The end

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Acknowledgments: Just passing along some of the holiday love that the Sentinel community always gives to the TS Secret Santa project on LJ. Thanks to Patt for her Secret Santa support and for the lovely art!