Winter in Eden by Ceares

Winter in Eden - Ceares

"Honey, I read your dissertation." Blair yawned and rubbed his eyes, trying to bring his mother into focus. Jim had let Naomi in as he was leaving for court, but for the currently unemployed, seven thirty in the morning was too early to be up, especially Blair thought, when you hadn't gotten to bed until almost two am because some of your sympathetic ex-colleagues insisted on taking you out drinking.

"What, Mom?"

Naomi sat down on the bed next to Blair, brushing a long curl behind his ear. He had managed to focus blurry eyes in on her now, and he wasn't sure he liked the way she was looking at him. "I said, I read your dissertation, and I wanted to tell you that I'm sorry."

Blair sighed. Naomi had apologized profusely for all the trouble she had caused by sending his diss to her publisher friend, and he thought he had managed to convince her that he didn't blame her, which he didn't. Naomi was just being Naomi, and he was used to that. Blair had always believed that when you loved a person, you took them the way they were, the good and the bad.

"Mom, you already said you were sorry, it doesn't matter."

Naomi shook her head, her expression plaintive. "But it does. I didn't realize, didn't know. If I had read it first, if I had known, I never would have done what I did."

Blair sighed again; realizing it was a pretty futile hope that he was going to get any more sleep in the near future. "Mom, you had no way of knowing about Jim's sentinel abilities. I know you would never have deliberately done anything to put him in danger."

"Not that. Of course I wouldn't want to hurt Jim. What I mean is, I didn't know you were in love with him."

Blair sat up in the bed, completely awake now. He didn't exactly know how to respond to the outing of his deepest secret. "Mom..."

Naomi held up a silencing hand. "Blair, don't even try to tell me its not true. I told you I read your paper. It's so obvious I can't believe Jim didn't realize."

Blair's eyes flashed away from Naomi's and she frowned.

"Don't tell me he hasn't read it!"

Blair shrugged, trying to pretend that it really didn't matter that his partner, roommate and best friend had shown no interest in what was pretty much Blair's magnum opus. "I never offered it to him Naomi."

"And he never asked." Some sort of determination seemed to settle over her then, and her expression became unusually resolute. The last time Blair had seen Naomi look like that had been when she insisted he accept the scholarship to Rainier, knowing it was what he wanted most in the world, even though he didn't want to leave her. "Honey I lied to you."

Blair's mouth literally dropped open. As far as he knew, Naomi had never lied to him in his life. Not even those little white lies that adults tell to children. The only subject that had ever been taboo was his father, and even then, she just refused to discuss it.

"When I sent your manuscript to Sid, I did want him to read it and give you some pointers, but when he wanted to publish it, I encouraged it even though I knew that wasn't what you had intended."

Blair's shocked expression had turned to one of confusion now. His mom's behavior was so out of context with her personality, that he was starting to think he was on an episode of the Twilight Zone. "Mom, what are you talking about?"

"Honey, it's not that I don't like Jim, because I do, even though he is a pi...cop." She reached out and laid a hand on his shoulder. "And at first I was glad you were so happy, but then I got scared. Not just because you put yourself in danger to be with him, and not even because you almost died, but because you seemed to be losing, no ... giving up who you are."

Blair got up and headed into the kitchen with Naomi following. He had a feeling he was going to need strong coffee to deal with this discussion.

"You love anthropology so much, and yet you haven't gone on one expedition since you met Jim, not even for a few weeks. Honey, I know I didn't give you much security when you were growing up, with us always moving around. They could have given you credit for life experience by the time you got to Rainier, and I know that you aren't like me, you're more settled." Naomi reached over and took his hand, squeezing it softly. "I just thought that you were doing with Jim what you did with college, clinging to the security, staying because you felt safe. I mean Jim isn't exactly mister undependable. I thought that if you got a chance at all the other things you wanted in life, you'd take it."

Blair shook his head, which was starting to pound. He looked into his mother's earnest face and he saw the love there, and the worry, and he didn't know what he could tell her. Mostly because everything she had said was true. The first thing that had attracted him to Jim was the fact that he was dependable, steadfast, the same reasons he'd stayed at Rainier so long. But whatever the original reasons, his love for Jim had developed far beyond looking for security.

"After you lied about your paper, and about Jim, I realized then that it was more than just the security. I realized how much you love him, and honey he doesn't love you. Not the way you want him to. What are you going to do when he finds someone else, when he's ready to move on?"

Blair pulled away and stood up, turning to fill their cups with coffee, and turning away so Naomi wouldn't see the bleakness in his eyes. He wondered that himself, a thousand times, and he still didn't have an answer. He hadn't wanted to face it, though Jim kicking him out of the loft because of Alex had brought it to the forefront. When he'd moved back in, he had pushed it back to the heart of his nightmares where it belonged. Now Naomi was forcing him to bring it back up again.

"Mom, I can't leave Jim now, he still needs a guide, even if I'm through with my diss."

"Oh honey, you said that Simon and Megan know about Jim now, and that he hardly ever zones out anymore. I just want you to think about coming away with me for a while. Your classes don't start for another three months. We could go to Europe or South America, or I have some friends down in South Florida. You remember how much you loved it down there the last time we went. Or if you don't want to go anywhere with me, you could go by yourself. Sid would love for you to visit him. He's been begging me to get you to come to New York."

Blair grimaced at the name of the man he held responsible for this whole mess. "Mom I told him that I'm not publishing The Sentinel even as fiction." Naomi shook her head, flicking a strand of reddish brown hair behind her ear.

"No, he's interested in you writing something else for him. It wasn't just your topic that grabbed him Blair. He said you have a real gift for writing, and you do, you made the whole Sentinel thing alive, interesting."

"I don't know Mom." Blair shook his head, leaning back in his chair wearily.

"You need to think honey, to decide if being a cop is what you really want separate of Jim. Think about it Blair, please. I'll call you in a couple of days to see what you decided. And if you decide not to come, at least... protect yourself baby, don't give so much." Naomi reached up a hand and caressed the side of his face, her eyes liquid and sad.

After Naomi left Blair lay on the couch, staring into nothing, thinking. He tried to remember when he had first realized he was in love with Jim, when it had become more than Sentinel and Guide, more than his Blessed Protector more than best friends. Was it when Jim had stood so awkwardly with that stupid bowl of noodles trying to comfort him after Maya, or was it before? Maybe from the very beginning? He thought about all the things his mother had made him face, things that he had shoved aside too long. Naomi was right. He had to make a decision about his life. One that had nothing to do with Jim Ellison. It was just that after three years, Blair wasn't sure he knew how.

**********

A week later he was at the airport with Naomi, when a feeling of dread washed over him. He stood up abruptly; causing Naomi to raise concerned eyes from her magazine.

"Honey what's wrong?" Blair shook his head. He wasn't sure what was going on and then his cell phone rang, and he knew. Even before he heard Simon's frantic tones, he knew that something had happened to Jim, and for a moment the world literally froze, and all he could hear was the sound of his own breath, coming harsh and fast, the sound of his own heart thudding in his ears.

"Sandburg! Where the hell are you?"

Blair's breath caught in his throat. "Simon, what happened?" Naomi stood up herself now, putting a hand on Blair's arm.

"Jim's been shot. He's at Cascade General in surgery now. Tell me where you are, and I'll send a unit to get you. I don't want you depending on that junk heap."

"No, I'm not far away from the hospital, I'll catch a taxi. By the time the car got here I could be halfway there. I'll be there as soon as I can." Blair was surprised at how steady his voice was, how clear his train of thought.

"Blair, I'm so sorry."

Blair squeezed the comforting hand his mother offered him. "Its okay, Mom. You go on and catch your flight."

Naomi shook her head." No, I can't leave you like this. I'm coming with you to the hospital."

Blair was about to refuse until he looked down and saw what his mother must have felt, that his hands were shaking as if he had palsy. At the hospital, Simon was pacing up and down the corridor. He rushed forward when he saw Blair and Naomi.

"How is he, Simon?" Blair's voice was hoarse with fear. Simon shook his head.

"He's in surgery now. Thank God the bullet missed any vital organs, but they wanted to get it out as soon as possible."

Blair nodded. "What happened?"

"I don't know, one minute everything was fine, and the next it was all going to hell. A convenience store robbery that went bad. The guy had hostages, and Jim was trying to talk him out. We heard the gun fire, by the time we got in there the suspect was out cold, but Jim had been shot." Blair ran a hand over his face, taking a deep breath and trying to compose himself. Trying to convince himself that it would have happened whether he had decided to stay or not, after all he wasn't riding with Jim anymore, wasn't there to cover his back. Naomi put a comforting hand on his arm, and they sat down for the interminable wait.

He tried not to let himself think about how Jim's senses were reacting to all of this. There was nothing he could do at this point and thinking about it would just make him crazy. Two hours later the doctor came out, chart in hand.

"Who is here for Mr. Ellison?" Both Simon and Blair stood up, and Naomi clutched his hand hard.

"Mr. Ellison came through the surgery well with no complications, and he is in recovery now. He'll be up in a little while."

Simon heaved a sigh of relief, and Naomi hugged Blair. "Oh sweetie! That's terrific."

Blair nodded distractedly. He hadn't said anything since his first frantic questions, sitting lost in a daze while Naomi and Simon talked over his head. He needed to see Jim. Nothing else mattered right now.

**********

The hospital room was silent except for the whir of machinery hooked up to monitor Jim's condition. Blair sat next to the bed, his gaze centered on the silent figure who had become his whole world the last three years. Simon had gone home to eat and change, promising to return after a trip to the precinct. The other officers had called or stopped by briefly, reassuring themselves of Jim's condition. Blair hadn't left the room since they brought him up from recovery.

"Sandburg!" Even groggy, Jim's voice held command in it.

"I'm here Jim." Blair's voice was quiet, soothing--his 'guide' voice.

Clouded eyes focused on him, and a frown creased Jim's forehead. "Thought you were leaving." The words were slurred under the affect of the heavy anesthetic, which had yet to wear off completely.

"Not yet. Get some rest, Jim."

"Don't go, promise."

Blair hesitated a moment, and Jim's voice came more insistently.

"Promise!"

"I'll be here when you wake up."

**********

Two days later Simon found Blair in the breezeway leaning against the wall, head back, eyes closed. They snapped open when Simon walked up.

"Hey Sandburg, Jim is in there losing it, what's going on with you two anyway? He's freaking out because you've been gone, what ten minutes? And why can't he tell where you are?"

"His senses are still dulled from the medication." Blair sighed, walking back towards Jim's room with Simon at his side.

"Why is he so convinced you are going to take off?"

Blair stopped, wondering whether to tell Simon, knowing he'd find out eventually anyway. "I was at the airport when you called Simon, if this hadn't happened, I would have been gone."

Simon stopped and stared at the younger man. "What! Why?" Blair considered it a sign of affection that Simon didn't mention the academy though he'd gone to a lot of trouble to get Blair admitted.

"I just need some time to think about stuff. Time away from Jim."

"Sandburg, I don't know what happened between the two of you, but I know how you feel about Jim and look, you two are the best partners I've ever seen, and whatever else he feels, he needs you."

Blair looked at Simon with sad eyes. Apparently his 'secret love' wasn't such a big secret. "I know he does Simon, I just don't know what I need."

**********

"I can't believe you were just going to go, Just take off leaving me a Goddamn fucking note with a bunch of bullshit philosophical double talk about crossroads and divergent paths."

Blair turned on him with blazing eyes. Jim had been home for two days, and he had been in the worst mood, demanding and curt, and finally things had come to a head. "Yeah, well I guess I could've just packed all my shit in boxes and sat it out in the hall, and you would have figured out what was going on."

"Damn it, I should have known you'd flake out on me. It was fine while you were playing around, but now when you have to make a commitment and become my real partner, you take off."

"Fuck you! I have been your 'real' partner for the past three years. Don't tell me about commitment, since I seem to be the only one who made one here." Blair picked up his jacket, cramming his arms into it. He couldn't stay in the same room with Jim any longer without the conversation going places he wasn't ready for it to.

"Where are you going?"

"Out. I'll call Simon to come stay with you."

"I don't need Simon to... Sandburg! Fuck."

He slammed the door, ignoring the frustrated curses that followed him down the hall.

**********

"Maybe you and the kid could use a break, Jim." Jim glared over at the sofa where Simon was sitting sipping on a beer. He had shown up about fifteen minutes after Blair left, claiming babysitting duties.

"Yeah well the last time we had a "break" he wound up dead, Simon." Blair needed him, and yes he needed Blair. A Blessed Protector needed a 'protectee'. He refused to admit that it was more than that, he wanted, needed things to stay the way they had always been, even though he knew in his heart that they were changing faster than he could handle.

Simon raised an eyebrow questioningly. "Is that what you're afraid of, that something is going to happen to him? You know Jim, Sandburg lived almost thirty years without you, and he probably never once got shot at, or jumped off a cliff."

"So what you're saying is you think I should let him go." Jim ignored the truth of Simon's statements, going on the defensive, his voice hostile.

Simon sighed, standing up and tossing his empty beer bottle into the recycle bin. "Blair is a good kid, good guy. You know how he feels about you. You keep him around and you don't feel the same way, and you're just using him. He deserves more than that. Hell, he's earned more than that."

**********

The manuscript landed on the table in front of Jim. He studiously ignored it.

"Read it." Blair's voice was harder than Jim had ever heard it.

"I don't need to, I live it remember?" He knew his own voice was cold. He had retreated behind the walls that only Blair had ever breached, and he didn't know how to stop. If he had maybe he could have saved his marriage. Blair had always known how to climb the walls, to sneak in, but he wasn't trying anymore, and Jim was alone back there, and he didn't know how to open the doors.

"What are you afraid of? That you might have to open your eyes for a change and see what everybody else in the whole fucking world knows?" They were so intent on each other that the sound of a knock on the door made them both jump. Back on full speed, Jim's senses hadn't even registered their company. Blair ran a hand through his hair in frustration, swearing under his breath as he opened the door.

Megan stood there, the smile on her face fading as she was engulfed in the tension that still filled the room. "Bad time?"

"No you can stay here and keep Jim company." Blair side stepped Megan and walked out of the apartment, slamming the door behind him again. Jim winced, both from the noise and the kind of anger it would take for Blair to inflict that noise on him.

"Jeez, what's wrong with Sandy? He's never rude. Now if it was you, I might expect it." She grinned at Jim, ignoring his frown as she threw her purse down and sat next to him. She saw the manuscript in front of him and pulled it towards her, running a hand over the cover.

"You're reading it again? Incredible isn't it? It's a shame the way things worked out you know. It really is a wonderful piece of writing." If anything, Jim's scowl increased, and he silently wished the cheerful Aussie on a quick trip back down under.

"Blair let you read it?"

Megan blushed at the fierce look he gave her. "I sort of peeked at the copy Naomi gave to Blair. I figured it was a shame that no one would get to read it you know, and that since I already knew about your being a Sentinel it would be okay." She got a stubborn look on her face. "Sandy spent years of his life working on this. It should be read, even if it's just us. Maybe especially by us."

"I haven't read it." He said in an 'end of conversation' voice which Megan blatantly ignored.

"What? You mean after all the trouble, and everything Sandy did to protect you. He put everything in that book and you don't even know what he gave up. God, sometimes I wonder how he stays with you."

Jim exploded, jerking up from the sofa. He heard Megan gasp, but paid no attention.

"Jesus! What is this high school? Does everybody at the damn station not only know all my business, but have a fucking opinion about it?" Megan ignored his rant as she grabbed her purse and keys.

"Come on Jim, let me take you back to the hospital." Jim looked down at himself and grimaced, seeing the blood seeping through the bandage. He realized he must have pulled some stitches loose. He hadn't even felt the damn thing. And where was Sandburg when you needed him? Nowhere around, leaving him to the un-tender mercy of Megan.

**********

Blair stood at the doorway to his room. He knew Jim was awake, even though the Sentinel was silent. Megan had called him from the hospital, and a part of him had wanted to rush there even though he knew Jim didn't really need him. The other part told him he might as well get used to not being there with a kleenex every time Jim sneezed. He didn't turn on any lights because it was easier for him to talk to Jim in the dark, easier to say what he needed to say if he couldn't see him.

"We can't keep doing this Chief."

Blair closed his eyes, his voice whisper low. "I know."

"Everybody, Naomi, Simon, even Megan. They all think you should go, leave me." Jim's voice was neutral giving nothing away.

"What do you think?" Blair became aware that he was praying under his breath for Jim to say something, anything to make him stay. He was so pathetic he knew it wouldn't take much, just a word, a smidgen of hope that his feelings were returned.

"I called Naomi. There's a ticket waiting for you at the airport."

Blair sighed, feeling his heart break a little more, but still the guide, always. "I'm not leaving you Jim. I just... we both need to think Jim. I'll be back in two months." He backed into his room, closing the door behind him with a soft snick. The sound echoing bleakly through the loft.

**********

New York was first, and dinner with Sid the publisher. An expensive dinner, because that was the least of what he was owed. Not that it didn't have to come to a head some time, Blair faced that now, but it could have lasted longer. Could have ended better.

"So, a synopsis and three sample chapters. Straight to me. Its not how we usually work, but I figure I owe you one, plus Naomi is very unhappy with me, and that is not a good thing." Blair smiled. True, his mom was the most loving, forgiving person in the world, but once you betrayed her trust you were in deep shit.

"I'll think about it." Yeah, along with everything else he had to think about. Still it was an interesting offer. Almost a guarantee of being published if he could come up with something halfway decent.

"The Sentinel was... well let's just say I think I was right about it's potential, and about yours. I realize it’s a whole different story when its true, but you put that much passion and energy into something else, fictional or non, and I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful partnership." The rest of what he said rolled over Blair's head as he concentrated on that first statement.

"What do you mean it was true. I told you, I falsified all that research, man." Sid shook his head, leaning back and taking a sip of his wine.

"Come on, Blair. First off you are Naomi Sandburg's son. That pretty much guarantees you'd never do something like that. Secondly, if it had been fake, you'd have let me publish it. It might have been irritating for your friend, but that's it. True, it was downright dangerous."

**********

Jim returned home from the station to a silent loft. He had been back at work for a week, but only because he charged Simon hard about it, and he was still riding a desk, in no condition to get back out on the street yet. Unfortunately desk work wasn't interesting enough to distract him, or tiring enough to make it easy for him to sleep at night. He couldn't sleep without Sandburg, couldn't think, and didn't want to eat. After three years he couldn't function without him around, and that was scary as hell. What was he supposed to do now?

Because Sandburg was gone, probably for good and Jim had let him go. Hell he'd practically forced him out. It was because he was afraid. Not that he'd hurt him, like he'd been when Alex was around. No it was fear of caring too much, fear of needing him too much and then losing him. What Sandburg would call a self-fulfilling prophecy.

He grabbed a beer out of the refrigerator and sat back on the sofa, eyes closed, never even bothering to turn on the lights, not needing them to see, and not wanting to face the meticulously clean, frighteningly empty space that was left without Sandburg. He opened his eyes and glanced over at the table where Blair's dissertation lay still, unmoved since the argument they'd had about it almost two weeks ago. He took another swig of his beer, and then he walked over to the table and picked it up as he did every night. This time he didn't lay it back down. This time he flipped on the kitchen light, sat at the table and began to read.

**********

Blair leaned back, letting the warm Florida sun caress him. He and Naomi had been there a week, visiting some friends of hers in South Beach. He was almost a week past his two months, and while he was mostly eager to get back home, when Naomi had suggested extending their stay till the weekend, a part of him jumped at the chance to postpone the inevitable. These last two months with Naomi had been fun. Reminiscent of old times, and he had gradually begun to truly relax, not realizing just how much tension had built up over the past few months. Really since the whole Alex Barnes incident. His mom came out onto the deck, settling into the lounge next to him. He could feel her watching him for a moment before she reached over and brushed a stray curl away from his forehead.

"So sweetie, how are you doing?"

"Good. It's gorgeous out here, and so warm."

Naomi smiled at him, her expression faintly wistful. "And you'd trade it all in a heartbeat to be shivering back in Cascade."

It was a statement, not a question, and Blair could do nothing but nod. "I'm sorry, Mom."

"Oh honey, don't be sorry. You are who you are, and I am who I am. This wasn't about me, though I loved having you with me again. I wanted you to find your own path."

Blair nodded. "And I have. Not the one I thought I would travel, but I think it's the right one for me. You know us Sandburg's, we always carve our own trail." They were both silent for a moment enjoying the multitude of colors cascading before them as the sun prepared to sink into the ocean.

"What about Jim?"

Blair looked over at his mother, taking her hand in his. "Jim is always going to be a part of my life. It's the how that we have to work out. And we will. You were right you know, I did need some time to decide things for myself. I know that Cascade is my home, it's where I belong, and no matter where I go, I'll always wind up back there."

Naomi smiled at him, squeezing his hand in hers. "I envy you that Blair, you always knew what you wanted. Even as a little boy. It might change, but you still know. I never have."

Later that night Blair pulled out his laptop, opening the chapter he was currently working on, and starting to write. A few pages and he was forced to stop and log on so that he could e-mail a former colleague for some information. He had barely signed on when the familiar chant of "You've got Mail" sounded. Blair's heart beat double time as he saw the signature from Jim's computer at the PD. He clicked on it, his heartbeat increasing even more as he read the short succinct message.

'Where the hell are you, Sandburg?'

Not stopping to think he logged off and grabbed the phone, calling the loft. He groaned in frustration when he got the machine, wondering where Jim could be before he realized it was only ten o'clock in Cascade, and Jim could be still working. He left a message on the machine and then on Jim's cell phone. The next day Blair called all day, even leaving a message for Jim at the station with no response. He wondered what kind of game Jim was playing with him, and then he started to worry. He called Simon, who was glad to hear from him, and assured him that Jim had recovered just fine and was back on the job. By the time Blair's plane landed in Cascade that Sunday night he was immensely pissed at one James Joseph Ellison, and he planned on letting him know it in no uncertain terms.

**********

Jim listened to the answering machine pick up, fighting the urge to snatch up the phone as he heard Blair's voice. He knew he was being cowardly, not returning his calls, but he was too afraid Blair had gotten his message, and was calling to tell him that he wouldn't be home, that he and Naomi were about to embark on some exotic world tour.

"Jim, Damn it! I know you're getting my messages. You could at least answer and tell me to fuck off, so I'd stop wasting my time. Anyway, I'll be home Sunday." The phone clicked, and Jim felt his knees turn to water as he collapsed in a chair next to the table. Sunday. One more day, and Sandburg would be home. He replayed the message again, just to hear Blair's voice, to hear him say it. Then again, not noticing the faint tremor in his hand as he hit the button.

**********

Blair let himself into the loft Sunday night. He didn't know whether he was surprised or not to find Jim sitting on the sofa waiting for him.

"Welcome home." His voice was quiet, and neutral. Blair couldn't tell what he was thinking. He shrugged.

"Thanks." His voice was just as neutral. He took his bag and tossed it into his room, throwing the jacket he had put on the minute the plane landed, onto the bed with the rest of his things. Jim hadn't moved when he came back out.

"So, this is where we have the big conversation."

Jim nodded, eyeing Blair who had already started pacing back and forth. "If you want, or we could just get naked."

Blair stopped at his pronouncement, turning to glare at him. "That's not funny, and it’s not fair, Jim. I don't need a pity fuck! If you think that's what this has all been about you're wrong."

Jim shook his head. "You know Chief, for someone who wrote an almost four hundred page love letter should know better than that."

"You read it."

"Yeah, I read it."

"And?"

Jim shrugged, turning to stare out the balcony doors for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts, trying to think of the best way to say what he needed to. "And, I love you."

Blair laughed, a harsh and bitter sound that grated on Jim's ears. "Right, after three years... a few pages of manuscript, and you're in love."

"Chief, I was always in love, I was just too scared to admit it. You were dead on when you said all my responses are fear based. I was afraid of letting you into the only part of my life where you weren't already, the last citadel. As long as I had that I could convince myself that I was still okay. I was afraid of wanting you too much, of needing you more than anything, when everybody I ever needed has let me down." Jim stood up and walked over to Blair. He laid his hand against the side of Blair's face, tilting it up so that blue eyes met blue. "I was afraid Chief because I looked up one day, and realized that you know me better than anyone. That you 'know' me. And that you are so much a part of me that I don't know where you end and I begin."

Blair's knew how hard it was for Jim to admit that, to admit to any of his emotions. Just that fact that he was willing to was more of a declaration of love than anything he could say. "Jim, you don't..."

Jim shook his head. "No, Chief let me finish. You deserve the words. Hell you deserve a lot more than that, than me, but if you still want me, then I'm yours. Because I realized that the only thing that scared me more than loving you was losing you."

Later that night they lay together in Jim's bed, Blair snuggled in the strongest arms he'd ever known. He told him about New York, and Florida, about meeting with Sid, and about his decision to go to the police academy, and write that book for Sid.

"Hell, if I can spend three years being a student, teacher, guide and "observer", I can certainly handle that."

Jim sighed contentedly behind him. "I think you can do anything you set your mind to, Chief. Anything at all."

Blair smiled in the darkness, pulling Jim's arm around him tighter. "So this is love huh?"

Jim dropped a kiss on the back of Blair's neck, his fingers tightening in his guide's. "Truly, Madly, Deeply, forever and ever, Chief."

The end

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Acknowledgements: Thanks as always to Felicia for the beta and the fandom love. Thank you to Corinne for the lovely cover.