Wallowing by escargoat

Wallowing - escargoat

Idiocy, sheer idiocy, Jim fumed to himself as he followed timidly behind his partner. He was a Sentinel and a detective. One would think that he’d have noticed the fight breaking out in the gym while he was working out. Honestly, it wasn’t that crowded. The New Year’s crowd had conveniently forgotten about their year-long memberships, so only the die hards inhabited the place nowadays.

Die hards like one Jim Ellison. God alone knew that he’d had to do more than his usual share of bench presses and sit-ups for the past few months. He’d like to be able to blame it on that fantastic sugar cookie recipe that Connor had unveiled in a scary bit of domesticity, but he knew that wasn’t the truth. The truth, unfortunately enough, was that he was getting older.

Now normally he wasn’t the type of guy to care about that sort of thing. Sure, he’d do his share of macho posturing when the occasion called for it, but he hadn’t run around trying to pretend that he wasn’t losing his hair, now had he? His body was a point of pride, true, but it was more the pride of soldier than of a man. He wanted to show off his weapon. He wanted perps and fellow cops alike to stare in awe and envy and not mess with him.

Then his dick got the bright idea of wanting to show off his ‘weapon’ to Sandburg, and that in and of itself added to the number of necessary visits to the gym. Who says that guys can’t assuage their feelings with food? Granted, his poison of choice had been burgers and fries instead of ice cream and lattes, but the principle was the same. Unfortunately, so were the results.

Still, he hadn’t really had that much of a choice in the matter. Sandburg would’ve spotted his attempts at repression a mile away, and Jim didn’t like to think that he was so old that he couldn’t learn new tricks to avoid dealing with his feelings. Not that he’d wanted to learn a new method, but Sandburg was getting too good at spotting an Ellison repression.

Now, to be fair, he’d tried the Sandburg way of dealing with his feelings. He’d acknowledged the unwanted cravings of his body, but it just hadn’t listened when he’d told it to quit whining. It certainly hadn’t listened when he told it that sporting wood was not a good way to bait and trap a wild Blair.

His body hadn’t cared, and he was completely justified in burying himself in a vicious cycle of high calorie take-out and exercise.

It had been working out just fine, thank-you-very-much. At least, it had been working out just fine until two morons decided to duke it over by the treadmills.

Just how exactly they made it over to the weights without being broken up, Jim wasn’t sure. What he was certain of was that they both managed to crash into him and his spotter while he was in the middle of his set of bench presses. Thanks to that little incident, he was now also certain that a pulled pectoral muscle hurt – a lot.

In addition to that little revelation, he earned a very embarrassing ride to the hospital to make certain that he hadn’t torn said muscle, and an equally mortifying call to his best friend to come bring him home afterwards. A best friend who had been out enjoying himself at some hippie festival commemorating a conglomeration of all faiths and ethnicities that was meant to be some unifying ritual because it celebrated differences, or something like that. Jim couldn’t quite remember. He’d half listened when Blair had been describing it.

“Just sit down, man. I’ve gotta take a look at what’s in these pain killers before you take them,” Blair’s voice cut into Jim’s thoughts.

“Whatever,” Jim responded with what he hoped was sufficient grump.

“You know where the rest of the icepacks are? We should probably freeze a couple for you to take with you to work tomorrow,” Blair said while he rummaged around in the kitchen.

Jim merely grunted in response because, no, he didn’t know where the extra icepacks were, and because he’d already taken one of the pain killers when Sandburg wasn’t looking. Because of that, the room now had funny diagonal lines running across it sort of like his father’s TV used to get when Sally turned on the microwave.

A cold lump of plastic was suddenly shoved against his chest. Jim forced his eyes to look downwards and was rewarded with the vision of a freezer burned bag of okra.

“Told you that you’d never eat this,” he commented as he rearranged the bag against his aching muscle.

“I might have if you’d remember to put these back in the freezer,” Blair admonished as he waved innocuous looking gel packs under Jim’s nose.

“I distinctly remember it being your turn to freeze the freezy thingies,” Jim slurred. Dang, now the room was starting to get the fuzz that his dad’s old TV used to get too.

“The ‘freezy thingies…’ Jim, are you feeling okay?” Blair asked even as he tried to look into Jim’s glassy eyed stare.

“You’re not coming in too good, Sandburg. I think I need to adjust your antennae,” Jim mumbled as he tried to pull Blair’s pony tail in a different direction.

Jim heard a muffled curse as Blair ran back to the kitchen. With his sentinel hearing, he should’ve been able to hear each individual pill rattle around in the little prescription bottle, but all that he actually heard were burblings that he assumed were Sandburg’s increasingly disgruntled ramblings.

“I swear to God I’m gonna kill you,” was what his beloved told him when the shorter man finally stalked back to the couch.

“It’ll be a great way to go, I bet,” Jim responded.

“Jim, man, how can you be a detective and still be so stupid. I mean, this isn’t some mystical happening or a new problem with your senses. This is just common sense. You have problems with cold medicine. You know this. Why did you take these without thinking first?”

Oooh, that didn’t sound good. Blair was worried. Time to show him that Jim Ellison was a-okay and his little snickerdoodle didn’t need to be fretting.

“Because I was in pain,” Jim elucidated in what he assumed was an authoritative and in control tone.

“Great, just great. And people worry about me being on drugs. Little do they know my straight-arrow partner can get high any time he wants,” Blair groused.

Not quite so straight, Jim’s brain commented ruefully.

“Okay, this is what we’re going to do. You’re going to drink another glass of water. Then you’re going to go upstairs and sleep this off.”

“Where’s the ‘we’ in that?” Jim asked as he obediently followed Blair to the kitchen for his prescribed glass of water.

“The ‘we’ part comes from me doing your thinking for you,” Blair said as he took the now empty glass from the taller man’s slightly unsteady grip.

Oh, well okay then. That made sense. Jim nodded in agreement with his thoughts. Blair just shook his head and pushed his partner towards the stairs.

“You need help getting your shirt off?”

Jim looked down at the slightly musky shirt he was wearing that was now sporting a nice damp spot from the partially thawed vegetable bag that had been resting against it earlier. Wow, those fuzzy, squiggly lines looked really funny up close and personal.

“Of course you need help, what am I thinking,” Blair muttered as he bounded up the stairs after Jim.

“Here, just hold…”

“NO!” Jim yelped as he backed quickly away from his friend. He couldn’t let Blair see his recently gained paunch. No way, no how. How would he ever woo the man then?

“Jim,” Blair’s voice was doing an admirable job masquerading as patient, “I know you’re in pain and on drugs, but you’re going to regret wearing that when you wake up in the morning.”

“I think that I can handle this by myself Sandburg, now leave me and my shquiggles alone,” Jim demanded in the coldest tone he could summon.

Blair shook his head and placatingly raised his hands in a gesture of submission. Jim relaxed slightly and quickly found himself flat on his back, the smelly shirt a lump on his pristine bedroom floor.

“The fact that I could do that to you at all, let alone so quickly will be brought up often,” Blair threatened as he roughly tugged Jim’s shoes off. “I trust that you’re going to be able to handle removing your gym shorts by yourself, so I’m going to go downstairs. Goodnight Jim.”

With that, Blair made his way back to his own section of the loft, and Jim was left on his own with his mind trying very hard not to focus on the fact that Blair hadn’t even looked at his stomach to notice the new bulge there.

~~~~~

Soft wisps of steam caressed his face. The air movements were soothing to the elephants who had taken residence in his skull.

Blearily, Jim cracked one eye open and saw his roommate perched on the edge of the Sentinel’s own bed, cup of tea in one hand, notebook in the other.

“Coffee?” he croaked out in what he would choose to describe as a manly whine.

“Nope, sorry man, but after the reaction you had last night, I figured that we’d better start you off with tea today. I’m not sure what coffee would do to your stomach when you’re coming down off of a high.”

“I wasn’t high, and I can handle coffee just fine,” Jim groused even as his hand clutched around the steaming mug of tea.

“Which is why you didn’t immediately process that the cup smelled like tea and not coffee? Man, there is something off with your senses here, and we need to figure it out.”

“Nothing wrong with my senses, Sandburg,” Jim growled.

“Look, man, you haven’t been yourself in like, weeks here. Then last night you don’t notice a fight break out, you take medication that you shouldn’t have taken, and now you don’t notice the difference between tea and coffee?” Blair’s voice was low and calming when he spoke. His face reflected his genuine concern about the situation.

Jim was caught in the eternal dilemma of whether to attempt lying to his best friend or trying to churlishly brush off Blair’s concern. Brushing Blair off in the long term wouldn’t work. Sandburg was persistent especially when it came to anything that might be sentinel related. Lying, on the other hand, had a chance of holding up in the long run.

Jim forced himself to meet the concerned eyes staring steadfastly at him.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he bit out. How was he supposed to lie to his friend when the other man was looking at him so earnestly?

A stream of air brushed past Ellison’s cheek as Blair pushed a cleansing breath out of his mouth.

“Jim, you have got to tell me what’s going on here. I can’t help you if you won’t tell me anything.”

“Look, it doesn’t have anything to do with my senses, okay?”

“Okay,” Blair said as he placed his notebook on the nightstand by the bed, “tell me what’s wrong with the rest of you then.”

“I, I don’t know, okay Sandburg? Sometimes I just don’t want to analyze myself to death.”

“Oh no you don’t. I admit that the stunt last night kind of pissed me off. I mean, I’ve been looking forward to that party for weeks, and let’s face it you were really shitty to me when I got to the hospital. But, that was last night. I’ve had a good night’s rest now, and I’ve lived with you long enough to know that there is something wrong. Now, if it isn’t a sentinel thing, it’s about to become one. You know how your emotional well being affects your senses, and you’ve been heading somewhere bad for a while. I’m your friend; I can help you out here.”

“I’m fine,” Jim ground out as he swung his legs to the side and attempted to heave himself powerfully off his bed. Of course, the pained gasp when the quick movements assailed his injured muscle sort of ruined the performance.

“Jim!” Blair’s exclamation was a mix of concern and annoyance.

“I’m fi..”

“You’re not fine! I don’t know how else to say it to you. You aren’t. You’re hurting yourself here.”

“You make it sound like I’m abusing myself. I’m not purposely trying to damage myself, Sandburg.”

“Yeah, well where your subconscious is concerned, I wouldn’t be so sure of that. Whatever you’re trying to repress isn’t working.”

Jim froze for a second as the sheer irony of that statement impacted him. By trying to not repress his feelings he had led Blair to believe he was repressing them, or maybe he had started to repress them by trying not to repress them. Hell, he wasn’t sure he wanted to know.

“Jim, let me help,” Blair said softly when Jim, too caught up in his musings, didn’t respond.

“There’s nothing to help, Sandburg,” Jim growled as he flopped backwards onto his bed so that he could stare at the ceiling.

Blair, as per his usual, didn’t accept the message that Jim wanted to be alone. The bed dipping next to the detective was a big clue on that.

“Jim,” Blair paused obviously trying to come up with a new tactic.

“Look, Sandburg, I don’t think you could understand this even if I told you all about it. You’re not, you just,” Jim sighed as he ran his hands over his face. Misleading Blair always took a good deal of effort. The man was too smart to begin with, and when you live with a guy that studies humanity for a living, secrets are hard to keep and lies are pretty impossible to spin.

“I’m kind of getting insulted here,” Blair said conversationally as he flopped onto his own back to stare at the ceiling like Jim.

Jim turned his head to the side a bit to study Blair’s profile. “You’re doing that pseudo-bonding thing that you do to get people to talk to you, aren’t you?”

“Pseudo… First off, I don’t think there is such a thing as pseudo bonding, not really. I mean, either you bond or you don’t. Granted you could bond based on a lie and then break the bond, but if you bonded in the first place it isn’t really a pseudo type of thing, you know? Secondly, I’m just trying to get you to talk, which appears to be an obsession of mine. Do I need to point out to you that I’m really, really bad with giving up my obsessions?”

“Blair.”

“Yeah?”

“It isn’t that, it’s just. I’m getting old, you know?” Jim winced. That was very much not what he was going to say. It wasn’t what was bothering him exactly, but it was close enough to the truth to be uncomfortable.

Blair turned his head so that he could look Jim in the eye. Their faces were close enough that Jim could feel the moistness from his friend’s exhalations on his skin without using his sentinel senses, but it wasn’t as intimate as he would’ve thought. Maybe it was the fact that both their feet were dangling off the side of the bed. Maybe it was the fact that Blair seemed to have dug out his large circle framed glasses that made him look every bit the nerdy professor. Or it could be the pain that arced through Jim’s system every time his pec twitched.

“Man, you are so not old. I mean, you’re so far from old you’re, you’re,” Blair just chose to end his sentence in a snort.

“I told you that you wouldn’t understand,” Jim spoke resignedly as he turned his focus back to the ceiling.

“Everybody ages,” Blair pointed out mildly.

“Yeah,” Jim commented in a ‘you-so-don’t-get-it’ tone.

“Is this about, I mean, are you feeling the urge to you know, put down roots?” Blair asked in a puzzlingly uncomfortable way.

“Sandburg, how long have I been living in this same loft in this same city working for the same place? I think that my roots are pretty firmly planted, don’t you?”

“No, that isn’t what I meant. Is this about wanting to start a family?”

“What makes you think that?”

“Logic. You’re worried about getting older. Physically you’re in better shape than most men half your age. You’re in a very stable financial position, and you have a good enough reputation that you could easily get a less demanding job should your health and fitness levels decrease. The only reason to really be worried about your age is if you want to start a family.”

“I’m not looking to start ferrying kiddies to daycare,” Jim snapped.

“Yeah, but maybe you’re looking for somebody to spend the rest of your life with. I mean, I noticed that you’re getting a little more distant here. If you think that my living here is keeping you from pursuing a more meaningful relationship, man you know I would never do that to you. I’ll move out if you think it will help,” Blair spoke softly.

Despite the myriad of thoughts that jumbled in his brain at Blair’s comment, the only words that managed to squeak past Jim’s lips were, “Move out?”

“Well, yeah. You’re my best friend. I’m not going to stay here just because I’m comfortable if my presence is keeping you from attaining your goals in life.”

“Where the hell do you get these stupid ideas, Sandburg?” Jim fairly snarled.

“I get them from a brain that spent years studying anthropology, and that started before I ever set foot on Rainier’s campus.”

“I don’t want you to move out,” Jim stated firmly, completely ignoring Blair’s retort.

“Okay, so what, you want me to live with you and the little wife? You want us to date conjoined twins?”

“Cojoined… Chief you think so far outside the box that you’re in another universe.”

Blair huffed in annoyance and sat up on the bed so that he could loom over Jim, “I’m trying to have a conversation with you here. You could at least look at me while we’re talking.”

Jim didn’t wince. He’s heard that complaint before, from just about every girlfriend that hadn’t turned out to be a crazed criminal. Same shit, different gender.

“I’m injured,” he pointed out calmly knowing full well that it would irritate. If he got Blair pissed enough, maybe the younger man would get off the subject of ‘What’s Bugging Ellison’ long enough for Jim to come up with a suitable lie.

“And you need your pecs to help you look at me? Is this some sort of alpha male posturing? Your muscles are injured, so you don’t look at the smaller male in case he takes it as a sign of aggression and tries to attack?”

Jim’s head automatically swiveled in Blair’s direction as his brain began to form a properly indignant response. It died before it even got the signal fully out of his brain let alone reached his lips. Blair was sitting there looking very smug.

“See? Isn’t this better?”

Jim glared at Blair because it was the only option that he really felt he had left. To back down and look away again would be either a sign of disrespect or retreat, and he did not want to project either.

“Look, this is obviously painful for you,” Blair began, “but I’m here to help you. If you don’t face what’s going on with you, worse things could happen to you than a strained muscle. What if you get preoccupied on the job? Hell, what if you get preoccupied while driving to the grocery store?”

Resignation filled Jim’s mind as he realized that Blair was not going to let the subject drop even temporarily.

“Truth is, Chief, I’m not exactly looking for that significant other. I’ve kind of already found her, but I’m not her type,” Jim forced himself to embellish the truth easily.

Blair looked stricken for a moment before a commiserating smile crept onto his face, “Man, I don’t think that any woman would consider you not her type.”

“Look, Sandburg, she’s a lesbian, okay? And it wouldn’t matter if she wasn’t because I’m too old for her anyway. I’m in good shape, I admit it, but people as vibrant as her - they don’t want to be pinned down by an old guy.”

“Actually, most women I know like a guy who is slightly older. They say that men their own age just aren’t as mature,” Blair argued with a more genuine smile that was suspiciously tinged with relief.

“And I suppose I should just miss the sexual orientation part?”

“Well, I guess, look if she doesn’t swing that way, then she isn’t the right person you know? You should wait to find the right person. Sex is really important to intimate relationships. Sure it isn’t everything, but it might be better if neither of you forces the issue. I think that you need to reconnect with yourself here, and it will all blow over,” Blair blurted out in a rush, so obviously making up the bull spilling from his lips that it was almost comical.

“So you think I should what, go fishing and my feelings will just evaporate?” Jim asked incredulously.

“Well, no, I mean, feelings and attraction aren’t just going to disappear, but it couldn’t hurt, could it? You and me out in the wilderness, no women around. It might give you a better perspective on this whole thing.”

“You think I should go fishing with you to kill my unrequited love,” Jim drawled out slowly.

“You can’t go hauling camping equipment around by yourself when you’re injured, so why not? Just us two guys doing macho guy stuff.”

“Sandburg, have you been in my painkillers?”

“What? No! I’m just trying to help you out here. Trying out a relationship with somebody who isn’t physically attracted to you is like a big, big mistake. I knew this guy once who had this friend, and he totally fell in love with him, right? So he makes his move, and the other guy says yes, only he’s unhappy because the other guy is a guy, but they’re friends so he just keeps trying and trying you know? But it didn’t work out because the straight guy couldn’t give the original guy what he wanted because the straight one didn’t want what the gay one had to give, but they were like really close and…”

“Why are you so damn nervous?” Jim asked suspiciously.

“I’m not nervous. I’m trying to keep you from making the colossal mistake of you declaring your love for Janice.”

“What?”

“She’s the only lesbian I know of that you really like. She’s smart, pretty, tall, man her legs are like ionic columns.”

“Legs are your fetish, Chief, not mine.”

“Yeah, well, so what? I can like legs can’t I? It’s a free country last I looked,” Blair uncharacteristically snapped.

Jim frowned. Blair must have seen through his lie. Why else would he have started talking about the two ‘friends’ who couldn’t make it work?

“It’s absolutely your right to like… legs. I didn’t mean to let you know about this thing. I wasn’t going to try anything,” Jim said as he turned his eyes back towards the ceiling fighting back the pain of rejection. Sandburg had let him down gently. He could be the good soldier and accept that gift with the dignity it deserved.

Silence reigned for a moment before he felt Blair’s hand rub apologetically against Jim’s shoulder before he got up and left.

~~~~~

Jim sighed as he eyed the remains of his third buttermilk donut. The sugar glaze that had coated it glinted teasingly in the fluorescent lights of the office. Forcing his attention elsewhere, he grabbed his whole milk, triple espresso latte and took another swing. God knew that he’d need the caffeine to get through the day. His injured muscle had put him on light duty which meant doing more paperwork and research while resorting to having other detectives and police officers do his leg work in more dangerous areas where physical altercations could become an issue.

That actually suited him just fine. It gave him more time to sit and feel sorry for himself without endangering the greater populace. It also meant that he could indulge in eating high fat and sugar foods without worrying about their impact on his blood sugar levels. After all, who would care if he got a little glassy when working on mindless forms? Baked goods had the added bonus of improving his mood for a few minutes, a fact that his fellow detectives had been quick to recognize and take advantage of.

Magically, a fourth pastry appeared on his desk. Glancing up, he saw Connor walking away. With a grunt, he tore off a section of it and popped it in his mouth. It was heaven. She’d used real vanilla extract.

“How many of those have you eaten?” Blair’s voice sounded in his ear as Jim’s confection was cruelly ripped from his fingers.

“Not enough,” Jim responded grumpily though he made no attempt to retrieve his treasure.

“Do you have any idea what a change in diet like this could do to your senses?” Blair continued to worry as he brushed the offending crumbs off of Jim’s desk.

“Hi, Jim. Blair giving you the mother hen treatment about your diet again?”

Janice’s voice saved Jim from having to make a response.

“Janice, what brings you up here?” Jim greeted her pleasantly.

“Yeah, what brings you up here?” Blair asked suspiciously as he suddenly was perching on the edge of Jim’s desk blocking his direct line of sight to Janice.

“Oh, I was just wondering if the two of you would like to go out for lunch. I’m having a little trouble with the details of my case, and with my partner out sick,” Janice simply shrugged to finish her sentence.

Blair nodded sympathetically, and Jim simply leaned back in his chair waiting for Blair to spurt off some highly coded words that told her that he realized how hard it was for her to get help from fellow officers in her own department because of her orientation. Blair would quickly follow that up with assurance that he and Jim weren’t cold-hearted, bigoted bastards, and they would gladly help her out.

“I’m sorry, Janice. We’d love to help you out, and if you leave the case files, Jim and I will both go over them for you, but Jim’s got a doctor’s appointment at noon,” Blair lied politely.

Jim was stunned, but noticed that Janice didn’t even blink at the announcement. She looked disappointed, sure, but it wasn’t the kind of disappointment that came from believing you were getting the brush off because you’re gay. And why should it be? Blair Sandburg was the champion of all things acceptance, and Jim Ellison was just a control freak who was a control freak to everybody.

“Oh, well, I’ll just leave the copies here. Let me know if you find anything. I really appreciate this,” she spoke sincerely as she dropped the files off in Jim’s in basket.

He waited until she was a safe distance away then muttered softly, “I wasn’t aware that Joe had a doctor on staff. He decide to hire one instead of that new fry cook he was advertising for?”

“Just saving you from some heartache is all. A thank you would be nice,” Blair rejoined.

“Heartache? What, you think going over some vice case is going to make me pine for the good old days of seedy bars and poor choices in facial hair growth?” Jim teased as he stood up to grab his jacket so they could go to his ‘doctor’s appointment.’

“Funny Jim, really funny. You know what I meant,” Blair whispered meaningfully.

Jim frowned. Meaningful whispers were all well and good, but they didn’t help when he had no idea what Sandburg was talking… oh. Janice. But wait, if Blair really thought that Jim was in love with Janice, why the rambling speech about the gay and straight friends?

~~~~~

“Blair, honey, I love you. I know, I know this isn’t what you want, but, crap okay. Blair, you know how you think I’m this straight guy in love with a gay woman? Well, I’m not. See it turns out that actually a gay man in love with a straight man. Oh yeah, that will win him over,” Jim muttered as he stared at himself in the bathroom mirror.

After sitting through lunch the previous day, he had contemplated Blair’s odd actions. He hadn’t come up with anything except for the obvious fact that Blair really did think that Jim was in love with Janice. Why it bothered Sandburg so much, Jim wasn’t sure. What he was sure of was that he was being a coward as far as talking to his friend was concerned.

It was all fine and dandy to repress and deny before other people became involved, but sooner or later, Janice and the rest of the police department were going to get suspicious about Blair’s strange behavior towards her. He was pretty much convinced that people would notice and that he and his partner would come under scrutiny. His life was screwed up like that.

So the plan was to face his fears and tell the truth. If his secret was out in the open, then it couldn’t come around and bite him in the ass. Karma it was called… He’d definitely been around Sandburg too long.

The hard part, of course, was actually getting the words out of his mouth. The rejection he could handle just fine, but the actual confession to get the rejection was a bitch to get together. He wondered why he was bothering rehearsing it at all. The result was going to be the same no matter what he did - barring, of course, a miracle where Sandburg returned his affections or a nightmare where he messed up what he was going to say so badly Blair would get offended.

Knowing his luck in relationships, the second chance was much more likely.

Hoping for the middle ground of polite rejection was the by far the best to hope for. He’d tell Blair that he loved him. Blair would tell him thanks, but no thanks. Jim would then bury his feelings by working long hours, get over it, and would finally be able to quit putting in extra time at the gym to compensate for the increased donut consumption.

Okay, take a deep breath Ellison, he coached himself.

“Blair…”

“Yeah, Jim?” his roommate’s voice floated in from the kitchen.

Jim had been a soldier; ergo he did not jump when he heard the unexpected noise. He did, however, consider scrapping the mission.

“I, uh, didn’t hear you come home. When did you get back?” Jim asked as he tried to regroup.

“You called to me because you didn’t know I was here?” Blair’s confused tone came closer as he approached the bathroom.

“I…”

“You don’t look so good, man. You didn’t take those pills again did you?”

“NO! I was just, umm, practicing,” Jim truthfully replied.

“You were practicing calling me?” Blair’s face started getting frown lines as he reached a hand up towards Jim’s face. “Are you running a temperature?”

Jim irritably batted the hand away. “You aren’t my mother, Sandburg.”

“Okay, okay. You want to tell me what’s going on then?”

“Yeah, I do. See, uh, you know how I told you that I was in love with a gay woman? Well I kind of had that backwards.”

Blair shook his head and grabbed Jim’s wrist gently tugging his larger friend towards the living room and the couch, “Man, you need to sit down for a bit.”

Jim yanked his hand away from his friend and crossed his arms to keep his upper body appendages from being taken captive.

“I’m serious here,” he sternly told his friend.

“So you’re a gay man in love with a straight woman?” Blair spoke slowly as if to show Jim that he was so ill that he was spouting nonsense.

Jim rolled his eyes at Blair and stalked over to the kitchen. “If you don’t want me to tell you…”

“No, no. Talk away,” Blair said in a blatantly fake contrite tone.

“I’ve got this thing for a guy,” Jim blurted out quickly.

Blair looked shocked for a moment, then faintly peeved. “This guy have a name?” he tersely asked.

Jim swallowed hard. It suddenly didn’t look like Blair was going to take the news well. One half of Jim’s brain was yelling at him to lie and say that the guy was an old army buddy that Sandburg didn’t know. The other half was insisting that only doing the right thing would keep his bad karma at bay.

“Because, I’ve got to tell you,” Blair continued when Jim didn’t respond, “that I’m not sure I believe you. First it’s a gay woman, now it’s a straight guy. You’re acting really strange period, and I don’t…”

“You, okay? I’ve got this, this thing for you,” Jim ground out just willing the conversation to be over period and get the fighting done with.

Blair’s eyebrows arched up and his mouth opened slightly before snapping shut. Then he started laughing. “God Jim, how did you ever get married with declarations of love like that?”

Jim frowned and chose to stare at the brickwork at the other end of the room. Laughing hadn’t been high on the desirable Sandburg behaviors list, but it was certainly better than that strange anger he’d been exhibiting a few moments ago.

“Aw, come on man, I didn’t mean it,” Blair said when he realized that Jim was doing his granite soldier impersonation.

“No, it’s okay, Chief. I can see where it would be funny,” Jim forced himself to say in a neutral tone. After all, the point of the confession hadn’t been to woo Blair. The point had been to stop his web of lies from growing any larger and endangering the populace of Cascade.

“No, no it isn’t okay. Laughing like that, it’s a really low thing to do, you know? I mean here you are putting your heart out there, and all I can do is start to chuckle over how you phrased it.”

“Sandburg,” Jim sighed as he reached a hand up to rub at his forehead, “can we just get this over with? You don’t need to give me a lecture or keep up with the long winded explanations. I don’t need them. I’m not looking for anything from you. I’m not even hoping for anything from you. I just figured you should know is all.”

“But, I mean, don’t I get a choice in this? What if I want to you know, test the waters here, or, or tell you that you’re a repressed, anal retentive creep, and I can’t say ‘no’ strong enough? What, what if I want to tell you I love you?”

Jim smiled slightly and shook his head. “If you found me that creepy, you would’ve left a long time ago. And we both know that you love me, just not in that way.”

“Oh?”

“Yes.” Jim stated firmly.

“But, I just, what if I do?”

“What? Find me creepy and controlling?”

“Controlling is so your word, not mine. And, I, what if I, you know, had a ‘thing’ for you too?”

“If you had a ‘thing’ for me, you’d have better words than mine,” Jim pointed out fondly.

“You’re right, you’re right. I don’t have a thing for you. I adore you. You make my world spin. You make me so angry that I want to commit homicide, but then drag you back to life afterwards because I can’t bear to be parted from you. I, well, I’m just plain keen on you Detective Ellison,” Blair finished with a faintly embarrassed flush and his eyes focused on the floor.

“You…” Jim found his brain couldn’t quite form a complete question.

“I swear that if you make fun of me for that ‘keen’ remark I’m putting pepper in the coffee grounds tomorrow morning,” Blair threatened without bringing his gaze up to meet his partner’s.

“You love me,” Jim stated in surprise.

“No, I’m just saying it to make you feel better,” Blair snapped as his blush grew deeper.

“Blair,” Jim said uncomfortably as he reached out to tip his friend’s face upwards, “I have no idea what I’m doing here.”

“Confessing your undying love for me,” Blair tried to quip, but it fell flat as his voice cracked.

“Smart ass.”

“Well, you would know. You’ve apparently been scoping it out when I wasn’t looking.”

“I’m a sentinel, it’s my job to look,” Jim pointed out reasonably.

“Whatever. Look are we going to kiss or something here? Because, I’m not feeling, you know, all that stable with this, and I’d like some physical evidence of this ‘thing’ you’ve got going on.”

Jim gasped a little as his dick got the idea of showing Blair just how much of a ‘thing’ Jim Ellison had, but thankfully his brain was still in working order, and it, at least, realized that rubbing his hard on against his friend probably wasn’t the best way to answer Blair’s request. It sure sounded like fun though.

Forcing the thought out of his mind, Jim leaned downwards as Blair titled his head and stretched upwards. The kiss was warm, and chaste and rather dry. Jim could feel the slight chap that covered the other man’s lips. It was nice. It was homey. It was damn prickly!

Reflexively, he jerked away.

“Jim?” Blair uncertain voice echoed in his sensitive ears.

“It’s nothing. I just, you poked me.”

“Yeah, well that’s going to happen man. I can’t keep it tucked away you know, or didn’t you think about that when you realized that you’d fallen for another guy?”

“Your mouth, not your dick,” Jim pointed out, wisely choosing not to add that he hadn’t felt Blair’s little anthropologist poking at him at all.

“Oh, right, stubble. Sorry,” Blair apologized with a chagrined smirk.

“Not quite as smooth as you think you are?” Jim teased slightly.

“Oh, man, spare me. I’m not exactly a fount of information on the whole gay love thing, you know? I mean, yeah the mechanics are there, but who thinks to tell you that you could end up with whisker burn on your thighs when your partner treats you to oral sex? I’m making this up from a very small resource pool. We are like, so screwed here.”

“No, but with a little bit of luck,” Jim murmured as he pulled Blair closer in an attempt to derail the student’s mind.

“Mmm, sex. Now that is an idea I can get behind, or in front of, or sideways of,” Blair rambled happily.

“Horny?”

“Well like you said, legs are my fetish, and yours are really, really long,” Blair purred lasciviously.

“And what about the whisker burn?”

Blair grinned cheekily back at him, “Man, I think that’s what the lotion is for.”

The end

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