Waiting For Sandburg by Kerensa

Waiting For Sandburg - Kerensa

“You’re 26 and single, I’m 36 and divorced, what are we doing wrong?”

Blair was fixing some of his world famous—well, alright, Cascade famous... a little—spaghetti sauce at the stove; he stopped the wooden spoon in mid-stir and turned to stare at his roommate.

"Wrong? What do you mean, wrong?"

Jim tossed one hand into the air in an 'I give up' move, and gave Blair an exasperated look, like it should be sooooo obvious. "Sandburg, we're two decent looking guys. You are still young and I'm not that old, yet here we sit, on a Saturday night, with only each other for company."

Ellison was obviously disgusted with this turn of events, and had already been in a bad mood—when wasn't he—so Blair forbear to remind the Sentinel that he was actually 37, not 36 years old, knowing that reminding him of that information wouldn't be appreciated. Blair frowned and went back to stirring the red sauce before it burned.

"Geez, Jim, there's nothing wrong with staying home once in a while."

"Not if you're a monk, maybe," the detective groused.

Maybe he's horny, Blair speculated to himself. The anthropologist knew that it had been several weeks since Jim had had the time to ask anybody out on a date, so maybe he was probably feeling the tension. Blair could empathize. Between schoolwork, the station, and trying to keep half a step ahead of Jim's senses, Blair hadn't even thought of date, let alone anything more personal. Still, it bothered him that Jim apparently thought staying at home with Blair was the pit of despair.

"Well, why don't you go out, then?" Blair suggested as he turned the knob off on the stove, because the spaghetti sauce was finished. "You could go to Reynosa's," he suggested, mentioning a sports bar/diner that a lot of the cops frequented. There was a pool table in the back where people played friendly games. "Seems like I remember you saying that the last time you were there a young lady was interested in dancing.

Ellison shrugged one shoulder nonchalantly, but Blair could see the interest in his eyes and the way he perked up. The observer could actually see Jim's body language going from pissed off and depressed to excited in seconds.

"That's true," Jim admitted with a dreamy smile slowly spreading across his face as he remembered the woman in question. "Tina. Ah. She was hot."

Blair nodded in agreement, although he'd never actually seen Tina—thank goodness!—but one look at his Sentinel, with his cerulean blue eyes, Adonis body and ass to die for, and Blair knew that any woman who was interested in him would have to be gorgeous herself.

Probably tall, with red hair, Sandburg thought wryly, comparing the unseen Tina with all of Jim's other love interests. He tried to stand a little taller, but no amount of standing up straight was going to make his 5'8" frame any bigger. Blair shoved some brown curls behind his ear, stragglers from his unraveling ponytail. Just Jim's style, Blair thought, thinking of Tina.

"Didn't she give you her number?" he asked his friend, with a happy, and hopefully supportive, look on his face, even though, inside he was screaming for Jim to blow off the beautiful Tina to stay home and eat spaghetti and watch a game on the tube with Blair.

"Yeah. Yeah, she did. I wonder where I put that napkin?" Ellison asked, as he stood in the middle of the living room, looking around, as if the piece of paper was going to materialize in thin air.

Sandburg rolled his eyes and silently asked several deities to give him strength. "Why don't you look on the bookcase?" In the same place you always put numbers, he added silently.

"Good idea," the Sentinel agreed enthusiastically. "I hope it's here," Jim added, as he opened a file folder that the super fastidious, neat freak Sentinel kept just to hold the telephone numbers that women gave him, and began to look through it. He found Tina's phone number, alphabetized, dontcha know.

"Eureka!" Jim held up the napkin triumphantly.

"That's great, Jim," Blair stated with a big smile. Inside, Blair was wondering why he was sabotaging the evening.

To make Jim happy, he decided as Jim hung up the phone and turned to face him, a huge I'm about to get me some grin on his face.

"Hah!" the Sentinel crowed out loud. "It's fate, or something."

"What is?" Blair asked, a puzzled frown on his face. Any time he brought up fate, kismet or anything even remotely mystical, Jim pooh-poohed the idea immediately.

But, of course, he can posit that idea and it is just so obvious, Blair thought with more than a touch of sarcasm.

"Tina is already at Reynosa's!" Jim shouted as he raced up the stairs, presumably to get dressed. "And she was more than willing to have some company," Ellison hollered down.

"That's great, Big Guy." Blair, of course, didn't have to yell, because he knew that his Sentinel would hear him no matter how quietly he spoke. "I'm sure you'll have a great time."

"Why don't you join me, Chief?" the detective offered as he bounded down the stairs wearing a pair of skin tight jeans, a crisp, white, button-down shirt, his shit-kicker boots and a dark brown, leather jacket. Blair had to mentally slap himself so he didn't leave a puddle of drool on the kitchen floor.

"Uh, I don't think that would be a good idea, Jim," Blair stated wryly. "I doubt Tina wants a threesome for her date."

Not to mention the fact that the few times Blair had gone to Reynosa's, it had been made perfectly clear by the majority of the cops there that someone like him wasn't welcome. Blair sure as hell didn't want to test that theory; his insurance premiums were high enough as it was.

"Oh, well, maybe not," Jim admitted. He paused and looked at the observer. "What are you going to do, Chief?" he wondered, suddenly realizing that he was leaving Blair in the lurch.

The Guide waved a negligent hand in the air. "Oh, don't worry about it. I have plenty to keep me occupied." He smiled at Jim, who smiled back, the relief evident on his handsome face. The older man interpreted that smile to mean that Blair had a Tinaof his own to call, just as Blair had intended him to. In truth, Blair's evening had just gone from a cozy night with Jim to a cozy night curled up with his laptop.

"Okay, then. Don't wait up for me," Jim suggested with a wink.

Blair smiled and nodded at his friend. He didn't say anything, because the anthropologist knew that if he opened his mouth, he'd end up doing something stupid, like asking Jim to cancel his date—the one he had suggested in the first place! Not only would that make him look like an idiot, but Jim would probably—okay, might—finally figure out that Blair had strong feelings for him.

Yeah. Strong. Blair snorted softly as he watched Jim walk out the door. Feelings, like I want to rip your clothes off and lick every inch of you. That's all.

Sandburg closed the door behind Jim and closed the door on his dreams.

^^^^

"Hey, Jim!"

Ellison turned at the sound of his name being shouted and waved at Henri Brown. The detective, who had a wildly patterned shirt—even for him—staggered and wove his way over to where Jim was leaning against the wall. H had obviously had one or two—or six—too many drinks and was feeling no pain. Walking beside him, in a surprisingly laid back pair of jeans and t-shirt, walked Brian Rafe, another detective from Major Crimes. The very dapper man grabbed his partner's elbow no less than three times as they crossed the bar, to keep the bald man from falling on his face.

"How's it going, Jimmy Boy?!" Brown continued to shout, even though he was right beside Jim.

Jim flinched at the extreme volume of his associate's voice; he would have even if he hadn't been a Sentinel. Rafe, who also flinched back from the yell, patted the dark skinned man on the shoulder. "H, tone it down; we're right here."

"Oh." Brown grinned, a wide, happy-go-lucky smile that showed every one of his teeth. "Sorry." He took a big drink from his glass. Jim was about to suggest that he slow down when the Sentinel caught a whiff of the 'drink'.

"What're you drinking there, Henri?" Jim asked.

"Lonn-ng Ishland Iced Teaea," the drunken man slurred out. Jim nodded, but his superior nose told him there was more tea than Long Island in the drink. He exchanged an amused glance with Rafe, who nodded in agreement. It took a few moments for that to catch up to Jim's brain, but when it did, he gave the other detective a quick, furtive look.

Hmmmm. I wonder how well my Sentinel abilities have been hidden, after all.

"...boy?"

Jim realized that he'd let his thoughts distract him and had missed most of what Brown had said. "Sorry. What did you say?" he asked, cupping a hand behind his ear, as if he hadn't heard H. Actually, he hadn't. The level of noise in the bar was substantially louder than he remembered from the last time he'd been here and it seemed to grow exponentially as the night wore on.

"Henri asked you where Blair was," Rafe explained, looking around the room.

"Oh. He's not here." Jim didn't miss the surprised looks on both of their faces. "I'm on a date," Ellison explained. He also didn't miss the look that they exchanged, although he did wonder about it.

Tina was in the bathroom. She and the friend she had originally come to Reynosa's with, a blonde named Jessica, had gone to the powder room—and who called the bathroom a powder room in a place like this?—several minutes ago. It was their fourth trip. Jim wondered what they were doing in there. He also wondered if Tina had some problem with her bladder.

"I see. So, does Blair have a date as well?" Rafe asked.

"No!" Jim answered sharply. He winced and hoped the volume of the bar noise covered how loud he had gotten. From the amused look on Rafe's face, and the astonished one on Henri's, Jim didn't think it had. "He said he had some plans, but I don't know what." Ellison looked towards the hallway that led to the bathrooms, wondering when Tina was coming back.

"So, he could have a date," Rafe stated, an innocent look on his face. "Since you don't know what he's doing."

Ellison scowled, and two or three people in the immediate vicinity moved away. He didn't know why Brian kept insisting that Blair was on a date, but he did know that his gut didn't seem to like the idea; not one little bit. The ex-Ranger's eye was caught by a couple sitting in one of the booths. The man had longer, curly, reddish-brown hair and was vigorously kissing his companion, who had her hands all over her date. It was waaaaay too easy to imagine Blair in his place. Jim felt his hands clenching into fists.

"Or maybe he's sitting at home. Alone."

The Sentinel's head snapped back around. He didn't like the sound of that any better. "I offered him the chance to come with me," Jim defended himself.

"On a date?" Henri snickered at the idea. Jim felt a flush rising up on his face. It did sound ridiculous, now that he thought about it. Ellison knew that he wouldn't want to go on a date with Blair and sit there watching him cozy up to some bimbo.

Bimbo? Why was he automatically cataloging Blair's unseen, imagined date as a bimbo? Christina hadn't been, neither had Maya, no matter how that mess turned out.

Hmmmmm.

"And this isn't exactly a Hairboy friendly zone," Brown stated, glancing around. Rafe nodded his agreement.

Ellison frowned and glanced around. All he saw were a bunch—a really big bunch—of people; drinking, dancing and having a good time. Why on earth wouldn't Blair be welcome here?

Then, across the overly crowded room, Jim heard the braying of several people’s raucous laughter. He looked over and recognized most of the men and women as fellow officers from the police station. From the booth where he’d been sitting, almost Blair and his date stood up from the booth and hurriedly left.

Now that he could see the younger man better, it was easy to see that his resemblance to Blair was fleeting, at best. Long hair and rather short stature were all that he had in common with Blair. The miserable look on his and his date’s face, along with the drunken laughter and actual finger pointing from the other officers, told Jim why they were leaving.

“Eddie is a good cop,” Rafe stated quietly. “But this isn’t the first time that he’s been harassed when coming here.”

Jim kept a close eye on the crowd at the bar, making sure that they didn’t follow Eddie and his date out and cause more problems. For a moment, Ellison thought he was going to have to intervene, but the one loudmouth who looked like he might follow them staggered over to one side and flopped back down on his barstool before he could make any progress towards the door.

“Does this happen a lot?” Jim asked, wondering how intentionally blind he’d been.

Henri waved a hand around in the air vigorously, so vigorously, in fact, that he almost bopped Rafe in the eye. The good looking detective rolled his eyes and pushed H’s hand back down before waggling one of his own back and forth. “So-so,” he stated.

“Oh.” Jim was glad for the clarification, because frankly he had been wondering what the hell Brown was doing. “Oh,” Ellison repeated quietly.

If they treated a fellow cop that way, how badly must they act when Blair was around? The reasons that Blair always came up with when Jim invited him along now made complete sense.

Ellison jumped when Tina slid an arm around his waist; he'd actually been caught unaware. "I'm back," she announced.

"So you are," Jim replied with a smile. His date didn't notice that the smile was rather strained, but his two colleagues—even the super-plastered Henri—did.

Jim also began to notice other things, now that he was really looking. Tina’s friend, Jessica, had her purse out—one of those tiny little things that looked like they wouldn’t hold a credit card—and was reapplying her lipstick. Nothing unusual there, except what had she been doing in the bathroom to cause all of her lipstick to be gone?

Ellison took a discrete sniff and gave a quiet sigh.

Oh.

“Uh, Tina, can I speak to you a moment? In private,” he added when Jessica made motions to follow along. He gave her a sympathetic smile. “Don’t worry, it won’t take long.”

Tina, of the long legs and auburn hair, gave Jim a curious smile when they had moved to a semi-quiet corner. “Is something wrong, Jim?” she asked seriously, as she placed a hand on his forearm. Out of the corner of his eye, Jim saw her blonde friend glaring at the two of them.

“Yes, your girlfriend is jealous,” he whispered into her ear.

His date’s eyes widened dramatically and she paled so rapidly that Jim was afraid she’d pass out. This time it was his turn to clutch at her forearm.

“Calm down. Everything is fine.” Not surprisingly, Jessica and Rafe noticed; Brown was close to passing out, so he was unaware. “You didn’t have to agree to this date, if you are already interested in somebody.” Ellison smiled and Tina gave a little smile back.

“Although, you might want to pick some place else to meet,” he suggested, giving the group at the bar a meaningful look.

Tina gave her friend a reassuring smile before she flicked a quick glance in that direction. “I think that’s a good idea,” she agreed. “Jim, I’m sorry about…”

Ellison waved a hand at her apology. “It’s alright. This night has been an eye opener in more ways than one,” he admitted.

“Good.” She smiled and leaned forward to give him a brief kiss on the cheek. “I’d, uhm…”

“Better get going before she blows a stack,” the detective muttered under his breath.

Tina laughed. “Yes, that’s a good idea.”

“Goodbye, Tina.”

“Bye, Jim. And thanks.”

Ellison watched her walk away distractedly. Suddenly, the pounding music, the commentary from the game on the television—which he should have been watching with Blair—the smells, the…everything, combined to give him a splitting headache and an upset stomach.

“I guess you lost your date,” Rafe stated when Jim walked back over to the two MC detectives.

“Yeah, several hours ago,” the Sentinel muttered.

“Uh huh,” Rafe agreed. Jim looked up in surprise; he had spoken very quietly and was amazed that the good looking cop had heard him.

“Ever heard of Richard Burton?” Brian asked quietly. Jim blanched at the reference.

“Yep, Lizzie Taylor married him, twice,” Brown said, as he raised three fingers in the air.

“True,” Rafe agreed with his tipsy friend. “But I meant another Burton, an explorer.” He gave the other man a calm smile and spoke very, very softly. “Some of us only have one or two,” he admitted.

Jim’s mind was awhirl. Obviously, Rafe had at least one enhanced sense and had figured out Ellison’s secret. Also, he must have known Blair, probably before Jim even did.

“Come on, H.” Rafe rolled his eyes at Jim and said, “I’d better get him home and pour my good friend here into bed.”

The Sentinel nodded, silently agreeing with the other detective to let the matter drop, at least for now. “Yeah, you might want to give him some water and aspirin,” Ellison suggested. “That might cut down on the hangover he’ll have tomorrow.”

Rafe slung Brown’s arm over his shoulder and gave a little snicker. “Maybe, a little. See you later, Jim.”

“Yeah, night, you two.”

The ex-Ranger walked over to the front door and watched his fellow detectives until they were safely in Rafe’s low-slung, two-seater, light blue, Datsun 280XZ. He smirked at the problems that Brian had getting a drunken Henri, who was himself a tall man, into a small sports car.

The fun’s going to be getting him out of the car, Jim thought in amusement.

He turned back to face the bar and, again, grimaced at the onslaught of sound and smells that greeted him. What the hell am I doing here? he wondered. An especially loud cheer from the bar directed his attention towards the television set that was mounted on the wall. One of the teams on the screen had apparently just made a spectacular play. And I could’ve watched that with Blair.

Ellison snatched up his jacket and tossed down a few bills to compensate the poor, overworked waitresses who had to put up with the drunken, loud-mouthed idiots who were their patrons. The Sentinel made his way determinedly to the door, thoroughly disenchanted with the whole scene.

I’m not sure what drew me here in the first place, he admitted silently. He was on his way home to Blair.

^^^^

Unfortunately, Blair wasn’t co-operating.

Jim had arrived home a few minutes earlier, ready and willing to make up for blowing his good friend off, only to find that the loft was empty and had been for a while.

Ellison held a hand near the stove and found it cold to the touch. Not really a big surprise, since he was there when Blair turned the spaghetti sauce off. The couch cushions were equally cool, though, indicating that the younger man had left not long after Jim did.

“Where would he go?” the Sentinel wondered. He cast a look around the room, just in case he had missed a note from his missing roommate. Naturally, he hadn’t.

The places where the anthropologist could have gone on such short notice weren’t exactly numerous; the library—several of them, in fact—his office at the university. Really, there weren’t that many places open this late at night. Jim knew that if he just put a little effort into it, he could probably find the younger man.

But did he have that right?

Jim had ducked out on their quiet evening at home, not Blair. And for all he knew, the grad student might have called up his own young woman and gone out on a date. Ellison’s gut clenched at the idea, even though he knew that he didn’t have the right to be upset.

“I guess I’ll have to wait until he comes home,” the Sentinel decided. He sat down on the cold sofa and turned on the television, determined to be there when his young friend made it back. He was waiting for Sandburg.

The End.

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Notes: Betaed by Bobbie.