Simple Gifts by ainm

Simple Gifts - ainm

“This looks like the perfect one to me, Sandburg.”

“Are you kidding?”

“No, I'm cold.”

Blair grabbed Jim's gloved hand with his own and pointed it. “Look at that bare spot!” He dropped Jim's hand again.

“Come on, Chief, it's a tree! We've looked at a hundred already – aren't you getting tired of 'too tall,' 'too short,' 'too skinny,' 'too full,' 'bare spots,' 'brown spots,' 'spiderwebs'...”

“You forgot lopsided,” Blair grinned.

Jim cuffed the back of his partner's head, but between his glove and Blair's hat, there wasn't much of an impact.

“Pick one already! We've been looking at these damned things for an hour, we're cold and wet, I'm getting hungry, and it's going to take us more than an hour to get home.” Jim's voice had more than a hint of a whine to it.

Blair grabbed his hand again, this time dragging Jim along as he headed for the next likely candidate. “I swear, Jim, you're sounding kinda wimpy for an Army Ranger.”

Jim just grunted as he let Blair pull him along.

Blair stopped short and Jim almost tripped. “Ah, now this, this looks like it could be the one!” he exclaimed triumphantly.

“It looks like half the other trees we've seen,” Jim began, until he saw the dark scowl aimed his way, “not that I mind, no, this looks perfect to me, look at the, ah, straightness of the trunk! And the, um --”

“-- it's OK, man, I get it.”

Blair circled slowly around the tree before returning to stand by his partner.

“You can relax, Jim – this is the right tree.” He smiled at the unsurprising sound of Jim's sigh of relief.

“Let's unpack the stuff,” he said, taking off his gloves and pulling the backpack Jim wore off his shoulders. Jim just watched while Blair unzipped it and began unloading his bags of supplies carefully onto the ground.

“So...”

“Yeah?” Blair asked, head half in the backpack.

“So... how do we start?”

Blair sat back on his haunches and looked up at his partner. “Well, I think the garland has to go on first or the ornaments will end up in the way, right?"

“Right...” Jim agreed slowly as he took off his own gloves.

“Here, you take this end and start at the top, and I'll hold this end and make sure it doesn't get tangled.”

Jim took the garland gingerly – he knew just how fragile it was after spending an agonizing amount of time helping his partner carefully string the popcorn and cranberries onto the fine cotton thread. He got the end settled in the top of the tree and began walking slow circles around the tree, laying the garland carefully on the branches.

“Wow, Jim, it looks great, man! The birds are going to love it!”

Jim opened one of the bags of ornaments. “Can you do the peanut butter ones? They feel nasty. I'll do the plain ones.”

“Sure thing, oh sensitive Sentinel of mine.”

They each took a bag of dried apple rings with corn-husk hangers, placing them in companionable silence until the tree was decorated with a mixture of plain apples and apples with birdseed stuck to peanut butter, hanging between the popcorn-and-cranberry garland.

They stood together and looked at what they had created. “What do you think?” Blair eventually asked quietly.

“I have to admit, I thought you were crazy when you told me about the 'Christmas tree' you wanted, and I can't say as I enjoyed the hour of tree-evaluation... but... I also have to admit that it's... beautiful, and I know that the local wildlife population will appreciate it, even if no other humans are going to see it, and... I'm glad we did it. Good work, Blair.”

Jim turned toward his partner, and Blair reached for him.

“No! Hands!” Jim yelped, jumping a step backward. “Jeez, Chief, you're full of peanut butter – where are the baby wipes?!”

Blair started laughing and advanced toward Jim, who, after his initial leap, held his ground warily.

“Sandburg...” he cautioned, but Blair kept his hands up where Jim could see them.

Slowly Blair extended his right hand, and used his forefinger to spread some of the excess peanut butter on Jim's lower lip. He leaned in, his mouth following his finger, and as his tongue slipped out to sample the flavor, Jim growled and grabbed each of Blair's wrists, holding Blair's messy hands away from his body.

Blair licked softly at his partner's lips, and Jim's growl shifted into a groan. It was awkward with no hands involved, but Jim pressed as close as possible to Blair's bundled body and turned Blair's exploration into a real kiss, gentle at first, then gaining in heat until they finally broke apart, breathing heavily.

“Time to get this show on the road, right Jim?”

“Can't get home soon enough,” Jim agreed, voice a little tight as Blair knelt to repack the backpack. “But if you touch anything with those peanut-butter hands, you're a dead man.”

Blair's laughter echoed in the quiet woods as he carefully reached for the wipes.

the end

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Acknowledgments: This was written for LJ Secret Santa List, 2010. Thanks to Patt for the artwork.