Once Upon A Sentinel Clear by Kerensa

Once Upon A Sentinel Clear - Kerensa

Blair was bent over, picking up a box of ornaments, when Jim walked into the room. The Sentinel grinned at the sight of those nicely filled jeans. It was too much for a man to resist, and so he didn't even bother to try. Tis the season to be jolly, after all, Jim thought with a predatory grin.

The curly haired man yelped and jumped, dropping the box he had just picked up, when Jim squeezed a tempting butt cheek. "Jim!"

Ellison laughed at Blair's outraged tone and turned his lover around to face him. The change in position afforded him an even better opportunity. He reached around and grabbed a double handful of luscious Guide behind.

"Ji-im." This time the drawled out name wasn't said in indignation, but rather it was said sensuously, like Jim's name was something to be savored.

Ellison pulled his lover, mate and Guide into a slow kiss. The two men thoroughly explored each other's mouths, just in case they had missed something the other several thousand times they had done this. Personally, Jim figured that they could do it a million times more and react the same way.

I hope so, he thought fervently. I sure as hell hope so.

Panting from lack of air, Blair laid his head on Ellison's chest. "I think I broke something, Big Guy."

Jim leaned back and looked at his lover in surprise. He ran an enquiring hand down the back of Blair's body, being sure to give the behind an extra squeeze. Then the same hand traveled down the front of his body; another area was squeezed this time.

"Nope, nothing seems broken."

Blair laughed and swatted Jim on the shoulder, although he didn't try and stop the examination. "I meant in the box, goof." Blair nodded his head toward the cardboard box sitting on the floor behind him.

"Goof, huh." Jim mock-bit Blair's neck as he looked over the younger man's shoulder. Blair's breathless laugh was a wonderful thing. They had both come a long way to get to this point. Things hadn't always been this loving.

"Do you know what this reminds me of?" Jim queried.

Blair frowned in thought. "No, what?" He smiled at the look on Jim's face.

"Our first Christmas. Not the one where we were a couple, no, I mean the first one after you moved into the loft."

Blair snuck a look over at his shoulder at the innocuous looking box. "Oh yeah, I remember..."

*****

Blair backed out of the spare bedroom, his room for the time being, and not being blessed with eyes in the back of his head, tripped over the box sitting on the floor behind him. Down he went with an oof. The files in his hands went flying and something in the box make a crunching sound as he landed on the edge of it.

"Chief, are you alright?" Jim's worried voice echoed back through the balcony doors.

"Yeah, I'm fine Jim, but..." He shook the box and...yep, there was the rattling sound of something glasslike that was now broken. "I, uh, man I'm sorry, but I think I broke something."

Ellison hurried in, his eyes roaming over the younger man, obviously looking for blood or a bone protruding through the skin. Blair wasn't injured, except possibly for a bruised behind, but he was touched that the detective was worried about him.

"In here." He touched the box in question.

Jim waved a hand negligently. "Don't worry about it, Chief. That is just some old Christmas ornaments. I was going to throw them out anyway."

"That's good." Blair relaxed, his whole body slumping in relief. He looked at the scattered papers and wondered if he had the energy to pick them up. Finals, and all the mayhem associated with them, were finally over and Blair was exhausted. He could handle giving finals and grading the research papers that were due right before them. He could handle taking the finals and writing his own research papers. What he couldn't take was doing all of that and working with Jim at the station at the same time.

He needed 26 hours a day in order to complete all of his work and God only provided 24. Let alone if Blair wanted to do something frivolous, like eat or sleep.

Blair wondered what Ellison would do if he realized that in the last two weeks, the anthropologist had had the equivalent of about forty hours of sleep. The top of his head would blow off, Blair thought. That's why he had decided not to tell Jim. None of the things he was doing right now could wait; he'd just have to make up the sleep debt during the break between semesters.

Meanwhile, those papers were still lying there and Blair was trying to work up the energy to move. Stopping, for any reason, wasn't a good idea during this hectic time, because the energy to keep him moving seemed to evaporate once he actually stopped for a minute. A large hand appeared in his face and Blair looked up into Jim's worried blue eyes. He blinked a moment, trying to remember what he was doing, because the fuzzy look really wasn't a good look for the walls.

"Come on, Chief, up and at 'em."

A tug on his arm and Blair was standing, albeit shakily, on his feet. He watched in surprise as Jim picked up the scattered paperwork for him. "Thanks, Jim."

"No problem." Ellison frowned at Blair and leaned forward to peer into his eyes. "Why don't you sit down while I fix us some lunch." Jim led Blair over to one of the couches and Blair gratefully dropped onto the soft, white surface.

Blair leaned his head back and closed his eyes. His whole body felt like it had been pounded by Mike Tyson, then run over by a dump truck and then used as a basketball by the Jag's team. Right now, all Blair wanted to do was not move for about two weeks.

"Lunch is ready, Chief."

Sandburg sat up with a start. He looked around and wondered where in the world he was. This wasn't the warehouse or, no wait, it wasn't even his tiny room at Jim's place. Damn, had he been forced to move again? He couldn't remember.

"Chief." Jim's call roused Blair even further. He looked around at the austere room, with its spectacular view and realized that he had fallen asleep on Jim's couch.

Okay, that's good, Blair thought. It would suck having to move again so soon.

Blair hauled himself up and staggered in to the dinning room table. Apparently he hadn't been incoherent for too long, because Jim had only had time to fix grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. He sat down and stared at the repast blankly for a while and only began to eat when he realized that Jim had stopped eating and was staring at him in concern. Blair wondered if Jim had been talking, and if he had, what he had said. Desperate to get that Blessed Protector look off Jim's face, Blair picked a subject and hoped it hadn't already been covered when his mind was in a haze.

"So, how did the Ferenetti case go today?" There, that distracted the Sentinel. The irritation of waiting to testify in court got Ellison's mind off of Blair's behavior.

Blair didn't say anything about all the fat in the sandwiches, or the amount of salt in the canned soup; it tasted too good and besides, he didn't have to fix it, so who cared. It took a while, but he ate every bit of the soup and most of the sandwich. Desert was chocolate pudding, so he managed to eat some of that too. Healthy eating was one thing, but chocolate waited for no man.

"I'm sorry if I broke anything important," Blair gestured to the box that was now sitting on the countertop.

"Nah, it's alright. Like I say, I was going to throw that stuff out anyway." Jim got up and started clearing the table. Blair wasn't sure if that meant he was upset or he just wanted to clear the table. Blair decided to take the Sentinel at face value and let it go.

"Do you do anything for Christmas?" Blair asked with a jaw cracking yawn. "Like decorate or anything." He leaned over onto his hand, because his head was suddenly too heavy to stay up on its own. Oh, man, I am soooo tired.

"Sometimes," Jim said with a shrug that was a little too nonchalant. "What about you?"

"I like to put up a few things, but if you are uncomfortable with that, it's no big deal."

Okay, that was a lie. Not an obfuscation, but a flat out lie. Blair loved all things Christmas. It didn't matter that he was Jewish, Blair simply loved the family atmosphere that the holidays generated in people. He sang Christmas carols and gave cards whenever he could afford to. Blair loved to have a tree with lots and lots of decorations. Last year, the warehouse had looked like Santa and his whole family lived there. But he wasn't going to tell Jim that.

"No, it's fine. If you want to put up a few things, I don't mind." Jim kept his back to Blair as he put away the dishes from breakfast.

"Okay," Blair said quietly. It was obvious that Jim didn't like the holidays all that much. That was fine, not everybody liked the festive season and maybe someday, if their budding friendship survived that long, Blair would find out why Jim was down on Christmas.

Blair appreciated all that Jim had done for him over the last several months and knew that it had been a strain on the Sentinel to have Blair living in the loft, disturbing his peace and quiet. The young man knew that his exuberant personality was hard for most people to handle, let alone someone with hyperactive senses, so he would tone it down. Wayyyy down.

*****

Jim looked over at the other end of the couch and shook his head ruefully when he saw that Blair was asleep again. He hadn't supposed that the grad student would make it very long into the movie, even with the gunshots and explosions coming from the television screen. However, he hadn't said anything, figuring that the younger man knew his own body.

Apparently I was wrong, Ellison thought with a snort. Jim narrowed his eyes and zeroed his eyesight in on his sleeping companion and frowned as he contemplated what he was seeing. Blair looked like crap. His skin was a pale gray color, except where it was white around his mouth and dark under his eyes. Ellison knew that the observer had been spreading himself kind of thin lately, but Jim wondered if it was worse than that.

Taking a long pull on his beer, Jim thought back over the last month. It hadn't been too bad at Thanksgiving, but by the first of December Blair had been on the go all the time. Jim couldn't remember Blair having a day off during that time.

He didn't miss any days though, Jim realized. Not at the station or at the university. Ellison turned his body, ignoring the movie; he'd seen Die Hard a dozen times anyway, and gazed at his partner. I wonder how much sleep he's gotten lately?

Blair sighed and twisted around, rubbing his face against the back of the couch. Jim smiled, thinking that the grad student looked about twelve, not the twenty something that he actually was. Setting his empty beer bottle down on the coffee table, Jim took hold of Blair's ankles and tugged. The younger man slid neatly down onto the couch and curled up, with his feet almost in Jim's lap. Jim covered Blair up with a blanket and turned out all of the lights. It was only mid-afternoon and the light from the numerous windows would keep it from getting very dark. Ellison didn't want Blair to wake up in a strange place in the dark.

Looking down at the sleeping student, Jim determined that he was tired too. Forget the chores, he told himself with a yawn. Ellison decided that Blair looked comfortable where he was, so rather than go upstairs, Jim decided to sleep on the couch too. Settling himself on the opposite end of the couch, Jim lifted up Blair's feet and snuggled partway underneath. He was still sitting partway up, but his legs were under Blair's and lay up and next to the younger man's back. Blair's feet rested on Jim's upturned hip bone. Both men were partially covered by the Indian blanket that Blair had rescued from the demolishment of his last home.

Just before he dozed off, Jim cracked open one eye and looked at the curly haired man who was sleeping. Being this cozy with someone was very unusual for Jim; he hadn't even wanted to be this close and personal with Carolyn. But for some strange reason, it felt right to be like this. Like this was where his soul should be.

He wondered momentarily where such fantastic ideas were coming from and then...well, and then he just decided to go with it. The sun was soft, he was warm and he had someone who cared for him lying beside him.

*****

"Alright, listen up people," Simon's bellow rang through the bullpen.

Blair looked up expectantly, glad that he was finally getting used to the yelling that the captain did and hadn't flinched at all this time. Simon glanced down at him and frowned. Blair figured he was looking too happy again and tried to wipe the look, whatever the hell look that was, off his face.

"It's time for the annual Angel drive." Groans met this pronouncement and Simon glared at them, one and all. "Enough!" Another bellow threatened the glass windows surrounding Simon's office. "If we all pitch in, it'll be taken care of without any hassle. I expect all of you," he made certain to look at Blair, you're not a cop, so that the anthropologist knew he was expected to carry his weight. "...to make an effort this year." This time he glared at some of the cops in the back of the room. They were ones that Blair didn't know yet and if the nasty sneers they had given him over the last several months were any indication, he didn't want to know them better.

He watched the big captain head back into his office and turned to Jim in trepidation. After that pronouncement, he expected some really odious task, like dating the mayor's daughter or something. Blair shuddered. He had met his honor's daughter once and a nastier piece of work he'd never had the displeasure of talking to. And that included the headhunters who thought his long, curly hair would look nice on their mantle.

"Uh, Jim," he leaned forward and whispered, knowing full well that the Sentinel could hear him. "What is this Angel thing that Simon was talking about?"

Blair jerked back when Ellison abruptly stood up. "Come on, I'll show you." Jim sounded so grim and his back was straight and taut, like he was heading into battle.

This is probably what he looked like every time he led the Chopec into a fight, Blair realized. This worried him, because he really didn't want to do battle in the police station. Once was more than enough, thank you.

Jim marched into the main lobby and looked up grimly, his jaw set in a muscle twitching grip. "Here it is," he stated determinedly.

Blair looked at the Christmas tree and fought the urge to laugh. There were Angel tags all over the tree, each one indicating an underprivileged child and what they wanted, or more likely needed, for Christmas.

"I see," Blair said just as solemnly. Despite being a Sentinel, Ellison didn't sense how amused Blair was and Blair was grateful for that respite.

He watched as Jim circled the tree, like he was looking for a weak spot in the perimeter. Wondering what he was doing, Blair decided to observe the older man; it was probably safer that way. After a few times around the tree, Jim carefully plucked one of the Angels off. He held the piece of colored construction paper between two fingers, as far away from his body as he possibly could. Blair wondered if he was afraid it would bite him.

I hope he doesn't shoot it, Blair thought with an internal giggle. At the very least, he might have to subdue that puppy.

The image of Jim wrestling a paper angel to the ground and throwing cuffs on it was almost too much for the anthropologist to handle. He reached a hand under the several flannel cuffs he was wearing and pinched the inside of his wrist. The pain was enough to head off his laughter and save him from the Ellison Glare, patent # 179443218.

By this time several more members of Major Crimes had wandered down from upstairs and were doing their mating dance of death with the tree. Even Simon, who seemed more resigned to his fate, had to force himself to take a paper. Blair thought the captain was going to cry when the ribbon tag that was holding the angel on, refused to let go of the tree. Manfully, Simon untangled it, but Blair figured a lot of yelling was going to be in the bullpen's future in order to get rid of the frustration.

Not everybody was petrified by "The Tree". Henri Brown, for instance, sauntered up, snatched up a paper at random and wandered off, not paying very much attention to anybody else, except for Blair. Just as H was getting into the elevators to go back upstairs he turned back and gave an exasperated roll of his eyes at Blair, who again had the unhealthy urge to laugh out loud.

Finally, there was a lull in the fervor. Rolling his eyes, Blair strode forward, wove in between Simon and Jim, hey being short had some advantages, and looked at the ones that were left. Seeing an angel for a six year old girl and another for a four year old boy, Blair snatched both up. He wished he could get more, but the budget of a graduate student just wouldn't stretch to more than two.

Blair didn't see the incredulous looks on both Jim and Simon's face. He was too busy calculating costs, and trying to decide where he could find a train set, that the little boy wanted, at a price he could afford, to bother with them.

*****

"Well, here we are." Again, Jim sounded grim. This time Simon was there too and he was the one who looked like he was headed for the guillotine.

"Ye-es." The two men looked at him like he was insane. Blair looked around Wal-Mart and really didn't see what was so horrific. Well, okay, it was just a few days before Christmas, so the crowds were pretty intense, but other than that, he just didn't see anything to get worked up about.

Blair grabbed a cart and headed for the toy section. He was mentally counting the money he had and hoping to get all of the toys that the kids wanted and maybe a few of the clothes that were listed too.

A little while later, Blair was one happy anthropologist. He had found a train set that was in one of the cheaper brands, but that was alright since it was for a small child, and it had a lot more gadgets than the more expensive one did. It wouldn't last as long, but the mercurial mind of a four year old child probably wouldn't be interested in the toy for long anyway.

The Barbie that the little girl wanted was fairly inexpensive. Blair was amazed at how cheaply the popular doll could be had for. Then he looked at all the accessories you just needed to buy to go along with the doll and realized where the selling point was.

Blair had headed to the clothing section and again luck was on his side. A few pieces of clearance marked clothing later and he was able to head back to the toy section. Because of his lucky finds, Blair was able to add a puzzle for the little boy and some extra doll clothes for the little girl.

Humming contentedly, Blair went to look for his shopping companions. He found them, two aisles over, looking at the dolls and all but biting their nails. That's when it hit him what the problem was with most of the cops. Jim had never had children or probably even been around them very much and Simon's son, Daryl, was a teenager. Besides which, Simon's ex-wife probably shopped for their child when he was young. Likewise, most of the other cops would either not have been around kids much, or their wives handled the present buying. Brown, on the other hand, had several nieces and nephews and so was very adept at children and their demands.

The two men had no idea what to buy.

Being the nice and helpful man he was, and not wanting the kids to suffer, Blair waded into the fray and helped them out. Less than 30 minutes later they were heading towards the checkout lines. Jim had a nice, big, soft doll and a baby doll blanket. Blair had convinced him that a puzzle wouldn't be a good idea for a two year old, who would be more likely to eat the puzzle pieces. Simon was carrying a Hot Wheels set that Blair had assured him would appeal to a ten year old boy more than an electric drum set would. Blair figured that the boy's parents would be pulling their hair out by Christmas afternoon with that present.

The rest of Blair's Christmas shopping had been done for a few weeks now. A friend of Blair's at the university knitted the most amazing shawls from yarn that her boyfriend Edmund wove and dyed himself. Blair had traded grading Kit's midterm papers for the labor and tutoring her boyfriend, Edmund, for the yarn. It had been worth it, the shawl was a beautiful lavender color, Naomi's favorite color, and as soft as a piece of cotton fluff.

Jim's present had been a little more difficult. If there had been time, Blair would have commissioned a sweater from Kit and Edmund, but by the time Blair had met Jim, it had been too late in the year to add another knitting project to Kit's already overbooked schedule. In the end, Blair had decided on a whole compliment of Sentinel friendly soaps and shampoos. It ended up being an expensive gift, one that tapped out most of his money, but Blair thought it was worth it for his new friend.

The rest of the bullpen gang, Simon included, were going to have to make do with some homemade candy and cookies. This time Blair had made the goodies himself, in some of his extremely short supply time.

*****

"Hey, Sandburg."

Blair looked around to see who was calling him. Nobody was there. Well...naturally there were a lot of people standing around; just none of them seemed especially interested in him. Figuring it was just his tired brain was playing tricks on him, the young man turned back to Jim's computer.

"Sandburg, pssst!"

Did someone just hiss at me? He wondered and then watched in amazement as a wad of paper landed on the desk in front of him. What are we, in kindergarten?

Blair figured the path of trajectory and looked at where the paper had come from. It was from Henderson, who waved at Blair furtively. The observer was shocked, Thomas Henderson had been rude to Blair the first time he'd seen him and it had gone downhill rapidly from there. Many of the rumors about Jim and Blair being gay had stemmed from Henderson.

Despite that, Blair followed the older man into the hallway. Blair was known for giving people several chances, no matter how nasty they were. The anthropologist was wary though; he'd been tricked by people before and beaten up for it.

"Can I help you?" he asked cautiously.

"I heard what you did for Ellison and the Captain." Henderson leaned over Blair. "I want you to do the same for me."

Blair flinched back from the looming man and wondered if this was some euphemism for sex. Was he accusing Blair of having menage a trois with Jim and Simon? "Uh."

"Please." Henderson held out his Christmas Angel.

Blair goggled at the angel and slumped in relief. "Sure, I'll help you."

"Oh, thanks kid." Thomas clapped a hand on Blair's shoulder and the smaller man's knees buckled under the strain. "So, what should I get?"

*****

Over the course of the next two days, Blair gave more advice on gift giving for children than he did typing Jim's reports. The anthropologist wasn't sure when he became such an expert on the subject, or when so many other people seemed to go brain dead in that area. Not that Blair objected to helping them, mind you, but by the time the PD Christmas party rolled around, Blair was about to fall on his face from exhaustion.

"Sandburg, I've got to tell you, these are the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever had," Joel Taggart mumbled around his mouthful of cookie.

Blair turned to smile up at the bomb captain. Joel was the first person to be really friendly to Blair and they had become friends quickly. "Thanks, Joel."

"I think," Taggart leaned down conspiratorially, "that you have gained some fans in the last few days."

Blair nodded slightly and looked around the room. It was true. People were friendlier to him than they were just a few days ago. The fact that he had let bygones be bygones and helped some of the officers that had treated him like gum on the bottom of a dirty shoe, had thawed people considerably. Now, with his present of holiday goodies, some people were practically gushing.

"I hope so. I'm going to be working here with Jim for a while and I'd hate to have to keep looking over my shoulder all the time," Blair admitted with a sigh.

"Excuse me?" Joel didn't look as happy now and Blair was wondering what was going on. "What did you just say?" Joel semi-growled, in a guard dog kind of way.

"Uh." Blair thought back and tried to remember what he'd said that might have upset his big friend.

"Have you been harassed by any of those," he glared over his shoulder at the laughing crowd of fellow officers, "jerks?"

"No, nono." Blair smiled and hastened to reassure Joel. He glanced over towards Jim and winced when he realized that Ellison had heard the conversation. "Really, no one has done anything. A few of the guys objected to my being here, but they were just mouthing off." Blair spoke as much to Jim as he did to Joel. Both men were not happy.

"If you're sure..." Joel let himself be reassured.

"I am." Blair smiled winningly.

"Well, alright," Taggart rumbled. He wandered away and Blair waited tensely for Jim to join him. It didn't take long.

"Chief?" Jim's whole body was tense and Blair couldn't take any more stress right now.

"Really, Big Guy. They made a couple of comments about the hair and things like that, no big deal."

"Ri-ight," Jim drawled out, obviously not as reassured as Taggart had been. "Good news, Chief. Simon has asked if you want to come to Daryl's recital this Sunday."

"His...recital?" Blair tucked hair behind his ear with the edge of his thumb in order to hear Ellison better.

"Yeah. Daryl's been taking saxophone lessons since he was about six. He's really good; I've been to several recitals."

"And-and Simon wants me to go." Blair smiled slightly and surreptitiously leaned against the wall, because he was starting to feel light headed. "That's great, man. I know Simon's never really wanted me here and this shows that he might just be accepting me."

"Looks like it...are you okay?" Jim peered into Blair's face and the observer figured that he probably looked as crappy as he felt. "Whoa, hang on there, Chief." The Sentinel snagged hold of Blair's sleeve when the younger man started to sway dangerously. "Sit down here."

Jim lowered Blair onto the chair at Jim's desk. Not Blair's less comfortable, visitor chair, but the detective's own, more padded one. It was done quickly and silently, something that Blair was eternally grateful for. If the guys in the bullpen realized that Blair almost face planted in front of them, all the "good buddy" feelings he'd wracked up would have dissipated in the laughter.

*****

Simon frowned as he watched Jim hovering over Blair. The captain was beginning to like the younger man and was glad that Ellison was keeping a close eye on him. Banks had heard some nasty rumors floating around about the two of them and while he knew that Jim could handle himself, Blair was a much easier target.

The captain glanced around the room and acknowledged to himself that most of those rumors would probably stop now, or at least taper off. Blair had wormed his way into the Major Crimes department and would probably be safe now.

He looked back, just in time to see Jim and Blair leaving. Ellison had hold of Sandburg's arm, in a proprietary way and in a supportive way. Simon could see how pale Blair was looking and shook his head. I don't see how he manages, Simon thought. The kid works four jobs most of the time: teacher, student, observer and helper to Jim.

Banks waited until Jim had gotten Blair into the elevator before saying anything. Knowing that Jim's sensitive hearing would catch even the tinniest whisper, Simon muttered as quietly as he could. "I want you and the kid to take the rest of the week off." It was now Wednesday afternoon. Jim smiled and nodded at Simon, just as the elevator doors closed on his worried visage and Blair's haggard face.

*****

Jim carefully eased the curtain to one side and peeked into the small bedroom beside the kitchen. Seeing Blair curled up, asleep on the futon bed, satisfied some inner, primal part of his psyche that the detective would adamantly refuse to admit existed when the younger man was up and around. But for now, Ellison just knew that he was glad to see the younger man finally resting.

After Blair's almost-collapse at the station, Jim had brought him home, but sleep had been elusive for the over tired observer. It had taken three cups of tea, two bathroom breaks, and almost an hour of a mind numbing documentary on sea turtles to relax Blair enough for him to fall asleep. Jim managed to move him to the bedroom before Blair passed out this time, and in a way, Jim wished he hadn't. It was easier to keep an eye on his friend when he was in the living room and...to be honest, Jim wanted to snuggle, uhm, lay beside him again. His nerves felt twitchy and he knew that if he were touching Blair, they would settle down.

Damn, Jim thought in disgust. Listen to me. I sound like some touchy feely weirdo and I'm standing here watching him sleep. Jim thought for a minute. I'm almost stalking him.

Disgusted with that idea, and with the way he had been acting, Jim resolutely pulled the curtain closed on Blair's doorway and flopped back down on the couch. After a few minutes of determined channel surfing, Jim found a game he thought he could get interested in. If the Sentinel's mind was more in tune with the sound of a certain person's breathing...well, no one, not even the Sentinel, was the wiser.

*****

Blair patted his coat and pulled it closer with a smile. Jim had given him the coat for Christmas and the fact that Ellison had noticed that he needed one gave Blair a warm feeling in his chest. Blair's coat had been ruined when Kincaid's men had shot at him during the siege of the police station.

The coat hadn't actually been ruined, but the bullet hole in the sleeve bothered the anthropologist. Every time he saw it, Blair could feel the rush of air on his face from the open helicopter door and see the mad sparkle in Garret Kincaid's eyes as he said, "I can use a man like you." So, he had given the coat to charity, which was ironic in a way, since that's where he got the coat in the first place. That coat had been replaced by a really, butt ugly, plaid jacket, also bought at a charity thrift shop, that he had worn to show that he was a government agent that time, but it hadn't been very warm.

This was a long brown corduroy coat with a nice heavy fleece lining. It was soft and warm. As if that weren't enough, Blair thought giddily, Jim also bought me a hat, scarf and fur lined leather gloves. Blair knew that this winter he wouldn't freeze every time he went outside.

Jim had loved his gifts and had taken a shower right after they finished opening presents. The Sentinel had been more relaxed than Blair had ever seen him and had told the observer that his skin had finally stopped itching all the time. Blair had been distressed to hear that Jim was still having problems with his skin, but Ellison had reassured him that it had just been a minor irritation, more like an irritating itch that you can't reach, in the middle of your back, than anything else.

Blair hadn't been able to talk to Naomi on Christmas day, but he did receive a card a couple of days later. She had said how much she loved the shawl and talked about how several of her friends were interested in having some made for themselves. Blair was glad to hear that; Kit and Edmund would be thrilled with the work.

Naomi had sent Blair a check for $250 as a Christmas present. He was overjoyed to get the money, which would buy the books he needed for the couple of classes he needed to take this next semester. Now he wouldn't have to scrimp on lunches and his part of the groceries to pay for them.

The anthropologist hadn't decorated the loft very much, despite Jim's reassurances that he could. A small tree was put up and a green wreath on the front door. Other than that, the loft was left as it was.

*****

Blair sat on the partially padded pew, sandwiched between the two, much larger men and tried not to breathe too deeply. Simon's elbow was digging into his ribs on the right and Jim had an arm draped over the back of the bench and so his rock hard shoulder was making serious marks on his neck on the left.

And so far, neither man had shut up. The entire time that the "concert", according to Daryl's definition, the "recital" according to Simon's and "hell on a slab of wood" according to Blair, had been going on, the two cops had talked.

They compared whoever was performing with the last person who came up and deciding if they were better/worse/the same. Simon bragged about how good Daryl was and how he was "going to grind the competition into the dirt". Jim agreed wholeheartedly with him, nodding like one of those bobble head dolls that you see on car dashboards.

Blair kept completely silent for once. He hadn't heard Daryl play the saxophone yet and so he had no opinion one way or the other about the young man's abilities. In fact, Blair had only met Daryl twice, before today. Once when Kincaid was holding them hostage, and didn't that just inspire wonderful feelings, and then once more a couple of weeks later. The wave and nod hello weren't exactly the basis for a friendship either.

Geez and they say I talk a lot, Blair thought with a grimace, as a rather intimidating looking woman with a truly ugly, purple hat turned around and glared at the two men. Neither man noticed, they were too busy clapping for the young girl who had just finished a painful rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Blair smiled apologetically at the woman and she gave him a look of compassion and then turned back around, but not before giving Blair a sly wink.

Sandburg blinked in surprise and then smiled. The Sandburg Charm that Jim often teased him about was real enough. You just had to look at Naomi and her many conquests to see that. Despite what Jim intimated, Blair wasn't as free with his affections as the big cop would like to believe.

Who the hell has time for a date, he thought with a weary grimace. Let alone a relationship. Blair let his mind wander for a moment. When was the last time I had a date? Oh yeah, Christina?? And look how wonderfully that turned out. Lash aside, the first date was heading for a disaster even before I was overwhelmed by the memory of Susan Fraser's dead face. And the second date, sheesh, I treated her as badly as everybody was treating me. What in the world was I thinking, telling her that I suspected her of being the leak. Blair sighed internally again. Man, no wonder I don't have very many dates, other than study dates that is.

The current performer finished and everyone started clapping. Blair took the opportunity to elbow the men sitting on either side of him. Jim and Simon rubbed their sides and glared at him. Blair didn't look over and hissed under his breath, "If you two don't settle down, I'm going to pop you one."

All around the three men, other patrons turned and looked and they kept clapping, but now they were clapping for Blair. The anthropologist blushed and nodded at a couple of them. Jim and Simon were mortified, but thankfully they stopped yapping.

*****

Blair pulled away from the kiss and gasped for air. Jim, who apparently didn't need to breathe, swept the hair off of Blair's neck and began to kiss up and down the younger man's jugular vein. Blair whimpered at the electric feelings that sent down his body and clutched at Jim's head, encouraging him to explore further.

Their earlier reminiscences of that first Christmas had halfway depressed the Sentinel when he thought of all the missed years. Blair was happy to encourage any making up, and making out, that Jim wanted to catch up on.

Blair leaned further into Jim's arms and started to snicker. Before long he was laughing as hard as he could. Jim tapped an impatient finger against his lover's back and waited for Blair to get control of himself.

"I'll never forget the looks on your and Simon's faces when the crowd clapped at me for shutting you two up." Blair giggled some more.

Even Jim smiled at that memory. Seeing Blair so happy and relaxed was worth any amount of embarrassment that he and Simon had endured.

Glancing around the loft at all the Christmas and Hanukah decorations, Jim remembered the times when there hadn't been any ornamentation at all. When he thought of how cold and sterile his home used to be, Ellison shuddered in remembrance. Luckily, Blair had filled their home and his heart with love.

"So, Chief," one open palm slapped against the younger man's butt; it made a loud cracking sound in the large room. "You ready to open presents?"

Blair mock glared at Jim and rubbed the abused cheek thoughtfully. When he glanced back up, there was a wicked smile on his face; one that made the Sentinel tense up warily.

"What're you up to?"

"Me?" Blair said innocently. "Why, nothing." He slipped out of Jim's arms and backed up a few steps, until his socked feet touched the stairs, leading up to the bedroom. "I was just waiting for you to open your present."

Blair slid a finger inside his shirt and began unbuttoning the flannel covering. "It's got a lot of wrapping paper on it." Blair stretched out his arm and dropped one shirt to the side. He backed up the stairs a few steps and started working on the buttons of yet another shirt. With a sly grin, Blair walked up the remaining steps. At the top, he looked over his shoulder, "It might take you a while to get to the good stuff."

Jim hurried up the stairs after him, eager to open the best present he'd ever gotten.

The End.

Back to Index