A Love Game by Kerensa

A Love Game - Kerensa

"My love. I'm so glad that you made it back from the war safely."

“It was the thought of your love that pulled me through the long and lonely days in the trenches.”

Blair looked up and had to smirk at the inane dialogue coming from the television set. The movie, Make Love Not War, wasn't that bad really, but there were moments when the sap got thick enough to turn the whole loft to amber. However, since the movie was about two gay men in love, a rarity, even with Brokeback Mountain out there, the younger man was willing to overlook the mushier parts and concentrate on the real story of two men who were madly in love with one another.

The sound of keys in the front door had Blair facing that way and smiling. Jim was home!

"Hi, Jim," Blair greeted him happily.

"Chief." Ellison's answer was less enthusiastic.

"How was your day?" Sandburg asked, not letting himself be put off by Jim's attitude. Hey, after three years of living with the man, if Blair let the Sentinel's attitude affect his mood, the anthropologist would have slit his own throat years ago.

"It was for shit, Sandburg, that's how it was," Jim groused. He threw his jacket down on the back of a chair, in clear violation of Rule #11.

"Oh. What was wrong?" Blair asked calmly, trying to diffuse the anger he could see bubbling just below the surface of Jim's skin.

"The whole damn day was wrong, that's what." The Sentinel threw himself down on the couch and plopped his feet up on the coffee table.

And there goes rule #17, Blair thought to himself.

"All day long, people at the station have been receiving gifts out the butt."

"Well, it is Valentine's Day, Big Guy," Blair cautiously reminded him.

"Yeah, I know, Sand-burg."

Blair gritted his teeth, but managed not to say anything. He hated it when Jim said his name in a sarcastic, two part drawl, the way Simon did when he was pissed at the grad student. It was bad enough to have the captain treat him like an idiot, but to have his lover do the same was a bit much.

"Balloons bobbing in the air, light reflecting off the Mylar ones and all of them a distraction. Candy. Boxes and boxes of the crap. It made the bullpen smell like a candy shop and Rafe was hyped up on the sugar rush all day."

The younger man started to commiserate with his lover, because, let's face it, the university had been attacked by Cupid today as well, but Jim kept going.

"And the flowers." Ellison gritted his teeth so tightly that the little muscle on the side of his jaw began to jump like mad. "The smell was so bad that I wished I could have one of your shoes to stick my nose in."

The Guide leaned against the pillar in the middle of the room, crossed his arms and scowled. Ellison had teased him before about how bad his feet smelled sometimes, but that comment was tacky and out of line!

Jim glanced at the TV and the movie that was still playing. He gave the kissing couple on screen a disgusted glare and shook his head. "Even Kowalski's desk was covered with crap."

"So?" Blair asked with a shrug of his shoulders.

"Kow is gay, Darwin." Again with the sarcasm.

"Yeah, I know, Jim. I'm good friends with his lover, Tyler."

Jim looked over at Blair and rolled his eyes. "Men don't give men flowers, Sandburg. Balloons and candy are bad enough, but flowers are too girly."

"What the hell makes you say that?"

The ex-Ranger raised one eyebrow in a display of disdain. "How many men have you seen get flowers?" The emphasis on men showed Blair that he didn't consider gay men who received flowers to be real men.

Blair glared at his lover. "Plenty. Olivia sent Simon a bouquet of flowers for his birthday and Henri's lady friend gave him a dozen roses last Christmas."

Jim shook his head. "Flowers from women are different, Chief," Ellison said, as if it should be obvious.

"I see." And Blair did. Jim's circular logic was destined to get his point across, no matter how unrealistic it is. "So, guys can't be romantic?"

"Women are for romance, Darwin. Men are for fucking."

The Guide gasped at the crudeness, and the bluntness, of the offending statement. He didn't quite know what to say, so he just looked at Jim.

"With men you get your rocks off; women are for keeps."

Blair sat down on one of the chairs in stunned incredulity, his mouth hanging open. Jim waited for a short time and then, obviously thinking he'd gotten his point across, the detective went off to the bathroom, announcing his intention of taking a shower.

The snap of the bathroom door as it closed brought Blair out of his stupor. He couldn't believe how quickly everything had changed. Fifteen minutes ago he'd been one happy camper, but now, now he didn't remember ever feeling this devastated.

Jim had come in and in a matter of minutes, trashed their relationship, and unknowingly, their night.

Sandburg rubbed his chest, just over his breastbone, where a pain was radiating out. It wasn't a heart attack; it was a love attack, because now Blair knew what Jim really thought of him and their relationship.

What relationship? Blair thought to himself. I'm a fuck buddy, at best, he thought bitterly.

"Bullshit on this!" Sandburg surged to his feet and flew up the stairs. There was no way in hell he was going to stay in with that asshole, not tonight of all nights!

~~~~

Ellison paused in the act of adding shampoo to his close shorn hair when he heard something from the living room. Dialing up his hearing, just a tad, because the sound of the water in the shower could turn into a thundering waterfall if he wasn't careful, and listened.

'...this!"

Jim smirked, wondering what had set his lover off this time. Blair was usually the most even tempered of people, but if he got mad, then look out!

Must have burned something, the Sentinel thought with a grin. The younger man was a great cook, but he was also easily distracted, which sometimes led to very well done food. Although, Jim sniffed delicately at the air, he didn't smell anything charcoaly.

Shrugging, Ellison went back to his ablutions. His right hand, still covered with soap suds, slid down to his semi-erection. Invariably, thoughts of Blair in the shower (or at the station, driving in traffic...) led to Jimbo Jr. taking an interest in the proceedings. The detective gave his rising interest a few easy pumps; he didn't want to get too ahead of the game or anything, but he was an extra sensitive, touchie feelie type of guy, after all.

The Sentinel smirked as he remembered Blair saying that. His body also remembered the next meeting with Dr. McKay and how good it had felt when he mashed Blair's body up against those shelves. Hell fire; that had been the main reason he'd left so quickly, because he didn't want the kid to realize he had a boner for him.

Jim groaned and gave his dick a few more pumps before he could stop himself. Maybe Blair could be persuaded to postpone dinner for a while. With a grin of anticipation on his face, Ellison finished his shower, stepped out and lightly toweled himself off; just enough that he wasn't dripping water all over the place, but leaving some droplets to tempt his lover with. Naked, he walked out of the bathroom into the living room and...

He glanced around in disappointment.

Nothing. Blair wasn't in the room.

Not to be deterred, Ellison sauntered up the stairs. "Oh, Blair. I've got something for you," he sing-songed.

Blair wasn't upstairs either. Casting his hearing out slightly, Jim was startled to realize that Blair wasn't in the loft at all. He slumped down on the edge of the bed, a frown on his face.

"Must have forgotten something for dinner," he mused out loud. "I guess that's what I heard him talking about before."

The detective slipped on a pair of sweatpants and a t-shirt. Running around half wet might be sexy, but he was just cold now, and let me tell you, Jimbo Jr. didn't like that one bit; he'd decided that he didn't want to play right now.

"Why is the closet door open?" Jim noticed. Blair had still been dressed from the university, and his coat was always downstairs on the hook by the door, so why did he need to get anything out of the closet. Moving closer to investigate, Jim realized that the clothes that were disturbed were the ones in the back of the closet, ones Blair didn't wear very often.

His going out on the town clothes, Ellison realized with a pang. Turning back around, Jim noticed that the clothes had been wearing earlier were lying half on, half off the end of the bed.

"What the hell?"

Now in a bad mood, Jim stomped back down the stairs, wondering what was going on. He sniffed at the air again and realized that Blair had left the oven on! Jim hurried across the room and turned the oven controls off. Opening the oven door, he peeked inside and saw that the food wasn't burned, or even close to it. Jim smiled when he spied baby back ribs and foil wrapped baking potatoes. Yum! His favorite meal. Frowning, Jim shut the oven and walked over to the refrigerator. Inside was a triple layer, chocolate and raspberry cake, along with the rest of a very fancy dinner.

"Oh, crap!" the Sentinel exclaimed. He looked over at the table and finally noticed that it was set with their very best dinnerware. He slowly opened the French doors and peered into Blair's former bedroom. Sitting on the bedside table was a vase that was filled to capacity with a brightly colored bouquet of mixed flowers. Sitting on the bed was an enormous heart shaped box of chocolate candy.

James Joseph Ellison was a dead man.

He dropped back onto the couch with a thump that made the springs twang in protest. Blair had gone to a lot of trouble to make Valentine's Day special for Jim and the Sentinel had not only made crappy remarks about the very things Blair had done, but he'd shit all over their relationship, as well.

"I basically said that he was some hole that I fucked," the Sentinel realized as he thought back over his earlier rant. "What have I done?"

~~~~

It took Jim five tries to find the right club. The Sentinel had been working backwards from the nicer clubbing establishments and the one he was currently standing in could only generously be called a hole in the wall. The edges of the room were filled to capacity, and possibly over the limit, with onlookers. The men were watching the dancers in the middle of the floor with greedy eyes and hard ons.

Ellison's gaze followed theirs and he wasn't too shocked to see that his lover was one of the guys being ogled. Blair stood out among the more jaded looking men like an exotic flower among a pile of browned and wilted ones. The younger man was wearing black jeans, which hugged his legs and ass like a glove, and a brick red suede shirt which was loose enough for the more modest grad student, but still enticing enough to draw the eye to him.

Let's play a love game, play a love game
Do you want love, or you want fame
Or you win the game
Through the love game
Let's play a love game, play a love game
Do you want love, or you want fame
Or you win the game
Through the love game

Jim wasn’t really paying that much attention to the song being played; only enough to realize that a woman was singing, because he literally only had eyes, and apparently ears, for Blair. His eyes devoured Blair. From his curly hair to his nicely rounded bottom, even to the dark shoes he wore; the ones that hid his feet, which were also sexy. The Sentinel swallowed the drool that threatened to escape his mouth, which, by the way, was hanging open, and started towards his beautiful lover. Movement from one side captured his attention for a brief second and he watched through narrowed eyes as another man walked up in front of Blair. Until that moment, Sandburg hadn't been dancing with anyone in particular, just sort of gyrating in among the other mass of bodies. Blair's eyes flicked up to the new stranger's, down his body, and back up again. Apparently satisfied with what he saw, Blair smiled in approval and the other man moved closer.

The Sentinel snarled. Jim heard it inside his head and he heartily approved of the sentiment. Ellison began shoving his way across the dance floor. A few people objected to being pushed out of the way, but one look at his face and anything they had to say died a swift and sudden death. By the time Jim reached Blair and his new partner, the Sentinel and his winning ways had mostly cleared the dance floor.

"Get your hands off!" Jim's voice wasn't overly loud, but the threat in it was clear, never mind the fact that the other man wasn’t actually touching Blair in the first place.

Blair's dance partner, a tall, well muscled young man, stood still for a moment and appraised the detective. He could sense the danger hovering around the older man like a cloud of smoke. Looking over at Blair, who had also stopped dancing, the new guy saw that Blair's fists were clenched and his charming smile had turned into a tight lipped grimace.

"What do you want?" the dancer asked. Blair was surprised by his question. It wasn't like they had known each other for more than a few seconds and here he was offering to defend Blair against a very angry Jim. Blair smiled in appreciation at the unexpected gallantry.

"It's okay, man." Blair patted him on the arm, ignoring the death glare that was shooting out of Jim's eyes. "I've got it covered."

Dancing man's eyebrows shot up at that, but he shrugged. "Okay. Later." He waved over his shoulder as he walked off the floor.

The Sentinel's crystal blue eyes followed the other man until he was standing back by the bar, safely out of the way, for now. When he looked back, Jim realized that Blair, however, had also taken the opportunity to vacate the dance floor. Ellison used his sense of smell, not wanting to risk dialing up his hearing in such a loud atmosphere, and immediately honed in on Blair's smell. No one else used that exact same combination of natural herbal shampoo, kiwi-melon hair gel and cologne.

"Chief," Jim greeted when he caught up with his lover by the front door. The detective caught hold of Blair by the elbow to keep him from leaving. Blair turned, gave Jim's hand a glare and then looked up at the Sentinel meaningfully. Jim let go of Blair, not wanting to cause a scene. Well, more of a scene, really.

"I figured you would want to talk, maybe without a whole club of witnesses." Blair's tone was sarcastic.

He followed the younger man to his car. Jim would have preferred his truck, but Blair was the one calling the shots this time, so Ellison slid into the passenger seat of the none too reliable vehicle.

"Blair, I..."

"So? What's going on, Jim? Don't like it that someone else appreciates your piece of ass?" Blair asked sarcastically.

"I'm so sorry, Chief. I should never have said that."

"But you meant it," Blair added, looking blindly through the windshield.

"No, I didn't. I don't!" Jim added when Blair snorted after the first statement. "I was overwhelmed by the Valentine's Day stuff at work and...a little pissed off over not being able to send you anything."

Blair turned his head sharply, looking over at Jim in surprise. Sandburg personally thought that their friends would be fine with it if they came out at the station, but he was realistic enough to know that there were a lot of other people who would use that as an excuse to attack either him or Jim. While Blair might be willing to take the risk for himself, his lover's safety was too important.

"Jim, you could have sent me anything you liked. I would have gotten the presents at the Uni, or, if they came to the station, you could have signed the cards Anonymous or Secret Admirer."

Ellison scrubbed a hand over his face. He knew what Blair had said was true, but what the Sentinel wanted was for everyone to know that Blair was HIS! Anonymous gifts would have stirred up interest in the younger man, not settled ownership rights.

The ex-Ranger covertly watched Blair in the reflection from the windshield. He could see that even though Blair wasn't as angry any more, he was still upset. This was why Jim Ellison didn't have very many close friends and why his relationships didn't last very long, because of his stupid mind. It kept going in circles when he was frustrated or upset and instead of calming down, Jim usually lashed out at the person closest to him.

"I'm sorry, Chief. I truly am."

"I know, Jim." Ellison apologizing at all was enough of a stunner, but the despondent look on his face really amazed Blair. In the time that he had been around Jim, as friend, co-worker and then lover, he had only heard Ellison apologize once with any degree of sincerity and that had been to Mrs. Murphy, a sweet, elderly lady who lived in their building. Jim had literally run into her one day while picking up the mail and knocked her grocery bag over. Jim had apologized profusely and carried her groceries up to the woman's apartment.

“That’s not going to be enough, is it?” the Sentinel asked quietly.

“I don’t know, Jim,” Blair admitted. “What you said really hurt.” He raised a hand when Jim started to object. “Oh, I know you say now that you didn’t mean it, but the sentiment had to come from somewhere.” When Jim remained silent, Blair continued, “You have a tendency to use anything, from a bad case to the stress of a holiday, to dump all over me. And…I have made it a bad habit to put up with the crap you dish out.”

Ellison paled. “That sounds like we’re breaking up, Blair,” he said/asked.

“I don’t know. Should we?” Blair turned to him. Jim could see the shiny hint of tears in the younger man’s eyes.

“No. Please, no. Give me another chance,” he begged, which was also significant. Jim Ellison hadn’t begged when his father told him he was a freak. He hadn’t begged his wife, Carolyn, to stay with him. It just wasn’t done. Except for now.

“Alright,” Blair agreed quietly. Jim knew that this was it. One more screw up and Blair would be out of his life permanently.

~~~~

Jim was amazed when Blair came upstairs to sleep that night. The Sentinel had figured that one or the other of them would be sleeping on the futon in Blair's old room. He had planned on insisting on sleeping there himself, to show his lover that he realized he was the one at fault, but Blair had waited until Jim had gone upstairs before going in to take his nightly shower. The detective had waited, sitting on the edge of the bed, until his lover had emerged from the bathroom, to make sure the younger man didn't go into the spare bedroom.

"Relax, Big Guy," Blair said when he walked up the stairs and saw Ellison still sitting there.

Ellison let himself relax a fraction. He laid back on the bed, on his side of the bed--the one closest to the stairs, so he could protect his Guide in the night--and watched speculatively as Blair got into bed, on the very edge. As far away from Jim as he could and still technically be on the bed.

"Goodnight, Chief."

"Night," Blair sounded tired and dispirited.

While Jim didn't sleep that night, he thought over what had happened when they'd gotten home. Blair had stated that he wasn't hungry. His lack of appetite had killed any hunger pangs that Jim might have had, so the spectacular dinner that Blair had prepared went into the refrigerator to hopefully be eaten the next night.

They had sat in the living room, not watching television together. The Sentinel sat on the couch and Blair perched on one of the chairs, farther apart than they had been in ages. Even before they became lovers, Jim and Blair had watched television side by side on the couch, where the Sentinel made sure to touch his younger friend.

And Blair had been quiet. The anthropologist was never quiet; he expounded on one subject or another all the time. But not tonight. Tonight he sat staring at the screen as if he were mesmerized by the movie that was on. Jim watched him out of the corner of his eye and could tell by the glazed look in his eyes that the grad student wasn’t seeing the t.v. at all.

Now, it was bedtime and again, Blair was far far away emotionally. It was going to take some serious ass kissing to mend the rift between them. Hopefully that would help.

~~~~

Blair didn’t say anything when the box of his favorite tea was magically replaced; they did that sort of thing for each other all the time. When he pulled into the gas station and realized that the Corvair already had a full tank, Blair was startled for a moment. But it was when Blair opened his backpack a few days later and found extra pens and a new notebook, a package of batteries for his handheld tape player and a baggie full of trail mix that he put the pieces together.

The anthropologist leaned back in his chair, the notebook in one hand and the baggie in the other, and rewound his mind. Jim had been especially attentive the last week or so.

Since the fiasco on Valentine’s Day, his mind supplied helpfully.

Sandburg had tried to put the hurt from what Jim had said behind him and had succeeded, mostly. There were still times when he would be in the middle of something and he’d pause to think, wondering if Jim really felt that their relationship was more something of convenience than love.

Looking at the love tokens in his hand, Blair realized the truth. Jim did love him, but he had been taught from an early age to resist showing any weakness, and love would definitely have been a weakness in his father’s eyes.

Putting down the items in his hands, Blair picked the phone up and hit #1 on the speed dial. One handed, he opened the Ziploc bag and pulled out a couple of pieces of the trail mix and popped them into his mouth.

“Jim. I love you, too,” he told the Sentinel when he answered.

The End.

Back to Index

Notes: Betaed by the incomparable, Bobbie. The song I quote is A Love Game by Lady Gaga. This story is for Patt who donated to the Moonridge Auction to receive it.