Burnished by Kerensa

Burnished - Kerensa

Blair leaned his head against the smooth, white tile wall of the shower, hips slightly angled backwards, and let the ‘just short of scalding’ spray of water massage his lower back. The water sluiced through his long curls and down his back in rivulets and then flowed over his nicely rounded behind like a waterfall. If his lover, Jim, had been there, he would have enjoyed the show immensely.

Too many hours hunched over his desk grading less than spectacular research papers had given him the backache from hell. His shoulders and neck were tense as well. Overall, he felt miserable. Even as resistant as the teacher was to resorting to chemical help, Blair had popped a couple of Tylenol before the shower, giving silent evidence of just how wretched he felt. But no matter how tired and sore he was, Blair wasn’t going to let anything mess up his and Jim’s evening.

The anthropologist smiled into the forearm he was leaning against. Thanks to some foresight, everything was ready and waiting for his lover and husband to come home.

Sandburg knew that with his pressing schedule at the university and Jim’s crazy caseload at the station, neither one of them would feel like cooking tonight. So, being the smart man that he was, Blair had ordered a wonderful meal from George’s, one of their favorite restaurants, and picked the food up on the way home.

After indulging himself in a sinfully long shower, Blair slowly climbed out, wincing when his back protested raising his leg over the edge of the tub. He dried off and dressed as quickly as he could, so that the good from the shower wouldn’t be lost. The younger man knew how much Jim liked Blair’s red suede shirt, so on it went over a pair of black slacks. He sat down on the closed toilet seat and toweled his hair dry before adding a conditioner to tame the wild curls.

Looking in the mirror, Blair was satisfied with his appearance. He decided not to shave right then, because he knew how much the Sentinel liked the feel of his whiskers on various parts of his body.

-_-

Blair glanced around the main room of the loft and nodded in satisfaction.

All of the rooms of their home had been cleaned to Sentinel standards—another reason he was so sore—because Blair knew that any hint of mess or untidiness would bother the fastidious man and prevent him from enjoying the night as he should. Kindling and firewood were arranged in a teepee shape in the fireplace so a fire could be started without much fuss. The dining room table was set with their finest plates, glasses and silverware—a gift from Steven, Jim’s brother.

Food was in the oven or refrigerator, depending on the type of food, waiting to be warmed, and or, served. All that was needed was for Jim to get home.

Blair turned to look at the clock that was hanging on the wall above the stove and saw out of the corner of his eye that the red light on the answering machine was blinking. It hadn’t been when he’d gone into the shower, because Blair always checked it in case Jim needed him, so the call must have just come in. As he pushed the button to start the message, Sandburg absently noticed the time on the clock and realized that he’d stayed in the bathroom longer than he’d intended, and Jim should have been home quite a while ago.

“Sandburg…pick up the phone.” Jim’s voice had the muffled quality that came from being filtered through a machine.

Blair frowned at the use of his last name. That was one of the things that bugged him, how little Jim used his given name, preferring to use the more formal one. Simon was Simon, not Banks. Joel was Joel, and so on. Everyone had a first name, except for him, even after all these years.

“Crap. I guess you’re not there,” Jim groused into the phone. “Eh. I’ll call back later.”

“At least he didn’t sound hurt or anxious,” Blair surmised. “Just ticked off. No big surprise there.” He frowned at the now quiet machine as if it held the answers to his questions. The Guide had picked up the cordless phone and was just about to call the station when the phone in his hand began to ring. Blair jumped and then laughed to cover how startled he’d been.

“Ellison-Sandburg residence,” he answered.

“Where were you, Chief?” was Jim’s abrupt response.

“I was in the shower.”

“Oh. I see.”

Blair frowned. Jim sounded so distracted that the anthropologist wondered if he were paying attention to him at all.

“You just got home, huh.”

Well, that certainly answered that question. Blair took a deep breath and slowly let it out. He knew that sometimes Jim got so caught up in work that he didn’t listen.

“No, I just didn’t hear the phone.”

“Uh huh. Listen, Chief. Me and the guys are at O’Malley’s celebrating the close of the Henderson case.”

Blair smiled happily at the news. “You caught him?” he asked eagerly.

“Yep. Early this morning and the creep gave a full confession just after noon.”

“Oh man, that is so great!”

Sandburg was relieved. Elliot Henderson had been attacking people in the park and beating them up severely before robbing them at knife point. His tally had been at six people, one of them an elderly man who was still in the hospital. It was a relief to have the attacker off the street.

“Right,” Ellison agreed, again in a distracted voice. “So, like I said, Simon, me, and the rest of the guys who worked on the case are going to celebrate. I don’t know when I’ll be home, so don’t wait up. Bye.”

Blair stood with the receiver in his hand for a minute or so, unable to believe that Jim had hung up on him. He finally pushed the button to turn off the phone and placed it back on the base to recharge.

“The ones who worked on the case,” he repeated in amazement. “What am I, chopped liver?” Blair glared at the innocent plastic bearer of bad news. “I’m the one who was used as a frickin’ decoy to catch that scum, and I have the bruises to prove it!” His voice got louder with each word as he verbally vented his frustration.

The anthropologist had been used as bait to catch their attacker. It had been a great plan, in theory, but hadn’t worked out quite as planned. However, in his haste to escape, Henderson had left behind enough evidence so that forensics had been able to identify the perp. Knowing their assailant’s name had obviously been invaluable in catching him.

The two day old bruises on his lower back and right hip were another reason that Blair was so sore. Sitting at his desk so long had only aggravated the injuries he’d sustained when the attacker had started hitting him. It was due to bad timing that the perpetrator had gotten away that night, but still, Blair had been in on the investigation from the start.

Blair gasped when it hit him. “He forgot,” Sandburg whispered. The realization actually, physically made his stomach hurt. “He forgot.”

The anthropologist sank into one of the chairs at the table and stared at nothing for several minutes. The pain in his heart soon gave way to frustration and quickly segued into white, blinding anger.

He stood up abruptly, letting the chair fall over onto the floor behind him. “So, I’m still not one of the guys, huh. Even though I work at the station as a consultant, I don’t count.”

Blair stomped up the stairs into his and Jim’s bedroom. He pulled the shirt Jim loved so much off over his head and tossed it onto their bed. Yanking open the closet door, he quickly looked over the contents. There, in the back of the closet, past his own more conservative flannel shirts, beyond Jim’s tighter shirts that hugged his chest so well, was what Blair was searching for.

Sandburg pulled out an all-leather outfit that Meagan had gotten him for his birthday one year. Blair had been flattered by the present and by the Aussie woman’s reassurances that he would look ‘bloody hot, mate’, but he’d never felt comfortable wearing it. Except, of course, for when he’d modeled it for Jim. The Sentinel had definitely appreciated Blair that night.

“If he can’t be bothered to be here with me,” Blair said, as he tightened the belt around his hips, “then he can shove it. And I don’t mean anyplace fun.”

Blair stood in front of the floor length mirror and examined himself. The black leather pants were low on the hip and fit like a second skin. He had on a mesh body shirt covered by a black leather jacket that ended at his waist, nicely showcasing him, front and back.

The younger man nodded. He was happy with his appearance, not happy with his mate, and about to do something about it.

-_-

The ringing of the phone sounded in a deserted apartment. But like a tree in an empty forest, no one heard its cry.

-_-

Joel Taggart leaned back in his chair and watched Jim. Ellison was normally a great detective and everyone knew that there was something special about his senses, so it came as a big surprise when, after several minutes, the detective didn’t realize he was under scrutiny. The big man shook his head and sighed.

“What’s the matter, Joel?” Simon asked. He could see how upset his friend looked.

“Simon, tell me something. What would have happened if you’d forgotten an important date with your wife?”

Banks winced and shuddered. “I did forget a party we were supposed to attend once. It wasn’t pretty.”

A television in the corner of the bar was showing a football game. There was a loud cheer from the watching crowd when a touchdown was scored. The former bomb squad captain waited for the room to settle down before he continued.

Joel shook his head. “What if it had been your anniversary?”

Simon gave an abrupt laugh, one that was echoed by several others around the table. The large man watched, but sadly the one person that should have gotten it, didn’t.

“Let me just say, our marriage wouldn’t have lasted nearly as long as it did,” Simon said with certainty.

Joel sat quietly while the men and women around him talked about various missed occasions and what had happened because of them. The captain didn’t say anything else, hoping that he wouldn’t have to.

-_-

Ellison listened, but didn’t really seem to be giving the conversation much mind, that is until he noticed, finally, that Joel was staring at him. The Sentinel’s mind was on his earlier conversation with his husband. At first, Blair had been just as thrilled as he to hear that Henderson had been caught. Jim was especially happy to get the mugger off the streets, because he was afraid that Blair would be used as bait once more and be hurt again.

The detective frowned as he remembered the way Blair’s heartbeat had spiked after he’d heard the good news. Something had upset him, and Jim had a good inkling what it was. By all rights, Blair should have been included in the celebration tonight. He had been a big part of catching Henderson and yet he’d been excluded. It was so easy to dismiss Blair’s contribution, because he and Simon had told Blair ‘you are not a cop’ for so long. Even three years after the younger man had finished his dissertation, gotten his doctorate, and become a paid consultant, it was easier to keep saying the same old thing than admit Blair had the credentials to be in the line of fire.

Joel was still staring at him and the Sentinel wondered what was going on. The couple of beers that he’d drunk had gone to his head, as they always seemed to since his senses had come on line, so things were a little hard to follow. They were talking about anniversaries, for pity’s sake.

Anniversaries.

Anniversaries?

“Oh crap!”

Jim sat up with a jerk, his mouth hanging open as he thought. Joel nodded.

“Oh damn! What is today?” he asked the table at large.

Being an inanimate object, the table didn’t answer, but H Brown did. “It’s Monday,” he offered helpfully.

Jim glared at Henri, as if he should know what he was really asking. The detective raised his hands and leaned back from ‘the wrath of Ellison’.

“It’s the 28th,” Joel supplied.

“Jim. What is it?” Simon asked Ellison. “You’ve turned a nasty gray color,” he informed one of his best detectives.

“It’s my eighth wedding anniversary,” he admitted quietly.

“Oh crap.”

“Shit!”

“Wow. Sorry, babe.”

Jim nodded as he listened to their condolences, his mind racing as he tried to think of a way to salvage this. “What can I do?” he asked, reassuring himself that he wasn’t whining. No, ex-Ranger detectives didn’t whine. Nope.

“Help?” he whined.

“Jim. It’s 8:30 at night. You have missed dinner,” Simon started.

“And gone out with the guys,” Rafe added.

Banks nodded and then continued. “And unless you have a present hidden somewhere, that’s out, too.” Jim shook his head no. Simon nodded. “That’s what I thought. You, my good friend, are screwed.”

Henri opened his mouth to give a suggestion, but then closed it and shook his head. “Nope, I’ve got nothing,” he admitted.

“Damn. I’ve got to go,” Jim informed them, sliding out of the booth and throwing some money on the table to cover his drinks.

“Good luck,” several people chorused.

Brown gave him a sad wave goodbye and Joel glared at him. Jim, he knew, felt even worse, because if it weren’t for Taggart, he wouldn’t have even realized what date he was missing.

-_-

Now he knew what lived on the bottom of slugs.

Him. That was what. At least, that’s the way he felt.

Ellison could see how much trouble Blair had gone to to make tonight special, even though he had his work at the university, in addition to consulting at the station. On top of that, Jim knew that Blair had to still be hurting from the pummeling that Henderson had given him two nights previously.

He opened the refrigerator and winced. A bottle of very nice wine was chilling on one of the shelves and a luscious, three layer chocolate cake was waiting for desert. The Sentinel could smell dinner waiting in the oven and if he wasn’t mistaken it was steak, asparagus and baked potatoes from George’s.

Crap! Blair had gone all out, even cleaning the loft until every surface shone, and Jim had forgotten. And not just today. The oversight might have been forgiven in the fervor of the takedown, but Jim couldn’t even use that as an excuse. He had no present for Blair, not even a card to show that he’d thought of their special day at all.

Today should have been easy to remember, because it was a double anniversary. Thirteen years ago today a curly haired young man named ‘Dr. McKay’ had walked into a hospital examination room and saved Jim Ellison’s life. Five years later they had married on a windswept cliff in Maui, Hawaii.

William, Jim’s dad, had shown his support for his gay son’s wedding by paying for the whole thing, including flying everyone to the 50th state. Naomi had even been gathered up from one of her retreats in Tibet and flown in at William’s expense.

It had been one of the happiest days of Jim’s life and yet, eight short years later, he forgot the anniversary of it.

Jim glanced around, hoping for some inspiration. He needed some way to make it up to his beloved husband. But how?

-_-

Blair had just come out of the elevator and was walking down the hallway, his tread slow and heavy. Jim leaned against the balcony doors and waited for Blair to come in. The Sentinel heard his husband’s footsteps stop just outside the door and then nothing for a couple of minutes. Just when Jim’s nerves were at the breaking point, he heard Blair’s key in the lock. When the anthropologist finally walked through the door, he wouldn’t even look over at Jim.

“Chief, I…” The younger man raised one hand and shook his head, stopping the words in Jim’s mouth.

Ellison got a good look at Blair’s attire as he walked up the stairs to their bedroom. Blair must have been really mad, because he didn’t like tight clothes and that leather outfit Megan had given him was exceptionally tight.

Jim felt a small pang in his chest. Until now, Blair had only ever worn that outfit for Jim. The detective felt the loss of something special.

-_-

Blair tried to ignore Jim, which was not an easy feat at any time. The younger man put on a pair of his sloppiest sweat pants and an old, worn out t-shirt. The black clothes were placed back in the rear of the closet; it would probably be a long time before he wore them again.

He hadn’t really worn them tonight, either. At least, not out in public.

The observer’s anger had petered out by the time he had driven more than a few miles; after that, all he felt was sad. Sad and lonely, although he didn’t know why he was so surprised. Ever since he and Jim had met, there had been tension in one form or another.

Jim had always pushed him away, pushed him aside, and generally acted like he was unwanted when things got tough. That had changed, slightly, after they married, but there were still times that Blair was treated like an outsider, an unwanted interloper, both at the station and the loft.

“Chief?” Jim’s soft entreaty rolled up the stairs.

Blair thought about hiding in their bed, but realized that was childish. And rather foolish, since naturally, Jim would have to go to sleep himself sometime. He thought about pretending he didn’t hear his husband, but that pesky childish attitude reared its ugly little head. Blair was a grown up and would act like one.

He sighed in resignation. “I’m coming down.”

The anthropologist walked down the stairs like they were leading straight to the Pit of Despair.+ He didn’t look over at Jim, but could literally feel his eyes all over him. Normally, that would be a good thing, because Jim’s touch was great, no matter how it came about. Not now, though.

“I’m sorry.”

Blair sat down in one corner of the couch and looked up at the statement. James Joseph Ellison rarely said the “S” word.

“You are?” Blair was positively stunned.

“Yes,” Jim said with a nod. “I was an insensitive jerk. I can’t believe that I forgot our anniversary.”

Blair narrowed his eyes. “Is that all you’re sorry for?” he asked in a low, Sentinel pitched tone.

“No.”

Jim sat down on one of the white chairs that was situated right beside the couch. He was close enough to touch Blair if he wanted to, and he certainly did, but he knew better. This was definitely not the time.

“I’m so sorry that we, all of us at the station, treated you that way about the Henderson bust. You should have been there for the celebration, if not the actual takedown.”

Blair shrugged. Sometimes his position at the university kept him from being at the station when suspects were caught or cases closed. That wasn’t Jim’s fault. Leaving him out of the party afterwards had been at least partially his fault, but none of the other Major Crimes team had invited him either, so he could cut his husband a little slack there. A little.

“It doesn’t matter,” Blair shrugged dismissively.

“Yes, it does,” Jim replied.

He glanced down at the floor as if the area rug had instructions written on how to fix this. Perhaps the plans to a time machine were imbedded in the fibers; stranger things had happened before.

The silence was something new and unusual. Normally, Blair filled the air with his conversation about the day’s events, a tribe he’d lived with, etc. Now, there was only silence and Jim was out of his element.

“Are you hungry?” he finally asked in desperation. Blair shook his head. “Me neither.” Mainly because he ate at the bar, something he wasn’t about to admit.

“I,” Jim hesitated. “Here.”

He leaned over and pulled a single, red rose from underneath the edge of the chair. Blair glanced up when the bright splash of color came into his peripheral vision. The anthropologist hesitated a moment and Jim winced.

“Thanks,” Blair said quietly.

He held the stem in one hand, not really looking at the flower. After a few more minutes of the silence, Blair laid the rose on the coffee table that sat between them.

“I’m going to bed,” Blair stated. He followed through on his intentions by getting up and gesturing to the small bedroom under the stairs; his old room. “I’ll sleep in there tonight.”

Ellison felt a pang in his chest. He and Blair had never spent the night apart since they’d become a couple; not even once. Blair wanting to sleep alone was a telling sign of how upset the younger man still was.

“No, Chief. I’ll sleep downstairs. You sleep in our bed,” the Sentinel offered. ‘After all, I’m the one who made the mistake,’ he continued mentally.

Blair hesitated, giving Jim a moment’s worth of hope, which was soon dashed. “Okay,” Blair agreed sadly.

Jim watched as the observer trudged up the stairs to their loft bedroom, his steps slow, with feet dragging. He glanced back down at the table and saw the rose lying there, forlorn and forgotten.

He gave Blair a few minutes to settle in bed and fall into an exhausted sleep and then Jim picked up the cordless phone and walked out onto the balcony. This called for something drastic. He was calling his dad.

====

“Come on, Chief.” Jim knew that he was wheedling, mainly because he was doing it deliberately. If Blair didn’t come with him, right now, the whole scheme was going to fall apart.

“Alright, Jim.” Blair sounded resigned.

“Great.” Jim plastered on a bright smile and handed Blair his jacket. He frowned behind Blair’s back as he watched how carefully the younger man put on his outer garment. From the way he was moving, Jim could see that Blair was still hurting from the beating he took. Ellison wondered if he could convince his husband to let Jim give him a massage. Yesterday at this time, no problem; today, the odd’s weren’t so good.

The tension and quiet continued as they went for their “drive”. That had been the obfuscation that Jim had used to lure Blair out of the loft. Luckily, Blair didn’t seem to be paying that much attention to where they were driving.

That was lucky.

====

Blair watched Jim out of the corner of his eye. He saw Jim shift in the seat and flinch in pain. His much taller husband must have found sleeping on the futon a painful experience. Blair knew that there had been times that he’d felt a little cramped and he was quite a bit shorter than the detective.

Sandburg was concentrating on his husband, so consequently he wasn’t paying attention to where they were driving. Light flashing through the windshield caused Blair to close his eyes and raise his hand to block out the light that threatened to blind him.

Blair automatically turned to Jim, worried that his sensitive Sentinel eyes had been bothered. Through the bright after affect that filled his vision Blair could see that Jim was fine. He rubbed his eyes a few times to clear them and when he opened his eyes seconds later, he saw that the light that had bothered him was, in fact, the sun glaring off the silvery metal skin of a smaller plane.

“What’re we doing here?” Blair asked curiously.

Jim already had the door open and was halfway out of the truck when Blair spoke. “It’s a surprise,” Jim said, amazing Blair. Jim Ellison did not do surprises.

Blair looked from Jim to the plane and back again. He started to question the older man, because after the day before, he really wasn’t in the mood for games.

“Come on, Chief. Please.”

Blair slumped in his seat and then unbuckled his seat belt and climbed down from the truck. There was no way he could crush that hopeful look on Jim’s face, no matter how ticked off he was at him.

“Great!” Jim enthused.

He slipped an arm around Blair’s waist and guided him across the tarmac and up the flight of stairs into the plane. Blair leaned into the embrace. Even one night apart had been tough and he’d missed the Sentinel’s touch.

“J-Jim?” Blair stuttered as he looked at the interior of the plane.

A smug ex-Ranger was a sight to behold and Blair half expected to see canary feathers poking out of Jim’s mouth. He let himself be sat down in the obscenely plush seat next to a bottle of very expensive champagne.

Jim sat down, still not saying a word, and watched the door to the plane. He was obviously waiting for something, so Blair watched too. After a few moments, Blair’s less than Sentinel hearing caught up with his husband’s. He heard the light, and getting louder by the second, clanking that several people’s feet were making as they ran up the metal stairs.

The noise stopped just outside of the door and Blair looked over at Jim and saw that Ellison was watching him for a reaction. Hoping to oblige, Blair turned back to the door. His mouth fell open seconds later.

====

So far things had gone better than Jim had hoped for. Certainly better than he deserved. It had taken only a minor amount of begging to get Blair into the truck and even less to get him onto the plane. Now came the fun part.

Ellison watched his husband in eager anticipation. He wanted to see every emotion that crossed Blair’s face when the “big surprise” came onboard. Speaking of which…

Blair’s eyes widened comically when the first young man danced onto the plane. He wasn’t naked, but the gold satin shorts hid very little. Smooth muscles rippled and flowed as the handsome young man danced and gyrated himself over to Blair and handed him a single, yellow rose. He then moved to one side to make way for the next dancer, and so on.

At one point the cabin of the smaller plane was awhirl with dancing men as they brought more and more flowers to Blair. It finally culminated with one of the men swirling back to the front of the group. Cradled in his arms were a dozen more roses, but even that wasn’t as impressive as his clothing, or more accurately, his lack thereof. The last young man was wearing a g-string, also made out of the golden satin, just a whole lot less of it. When he turned around to leave, the dancer’s tanned and toned butt was prominently displayed. Both Sentinel and Guide were transfixed, watching those taut globes sway as he followed the other scantily clad men from the plane.

“Uh, Jim?”

The Sentinel understood his spouse’s confusion. Jim knew that his jealous nature could be, and often was, a problem, so his bringing “eye candy” for Blair was very out of character.

“I wanted to make up for yesterday,” he admitted. He knew nothing he could do was going to replace the hurt Blair had felt last night.

Blair fingered the velvety soft rose petals and smiled. There were three dozen of the fragrant flowers in his arms. Blair knew how many there were, because he automatically counted them. Inside, he was jumping up and down like someone on their first date.

“I have to admit,” Blair said quietly, “as far as apologies go, this one was a doozy.”

Jim relaxed for the first time that day. It looked like Blair was going to forgive him after all.

====

The long weekend at the lake resort was a success. Of a sort.

Blair at least stayed in the same room as Jim, but he kept strictly to his side of the bed. The distance spanning their bodies felt like a thousand miles, but the Sentinel knew better than to try and cross it.

Jim took the opportunity to wine and dine the younger man. Blair seemed to appreciate the romantic gestures, but it was easy to see how reserved he was. Every time he hesitated before he smiled, or didn’t smile at all, was like a knife in Jim’s chest. He was used to the ex-grad student being open and loving all the time. Ellison knew that he’d betrayed that trust by his forgetfulness, but it was still hard.

====

Blair tried to relax and enjoy himself. Yes, Jim had made a mistake, but he was trying to make up for it.

It was just that…

As nice as everything was, and wow, the resort was really something, it had evidently been done on the spur of the moment. Blair knew that the plane, and most probably the luxury room, were courtesy of Jim’s father, not the detective’s own careful planning.

Blair, on the other hand, had a present for Jim, one that he’d worked on for months and planned for even longer. Since bronze was the traditional present to give for an eighth wedding anniversary, Blair had designed and molded a bronze statue for Jim.

The base of the statue was a swirl that looked like clay. Rising from that were two distinct sides. On the left was Jim and on the right was Blair. But that wasn’t all. Curving up and around each man was the likeness of their respective spirit guides. Blair thought he had done especially well in capturing the majesty of the jaguar and the loyalty of his wolf.

He had worked for a week just on Jim’s eyes, getting them right before casting the bronze mold. As much as he wanted to forgive and forget, it was hard knowing that Jim had forgotten the day completely.

====

Blair shook his head, spraying the inside of the shower with thousands of little drops of water. Stepping out onto the soft bathmat, the anthropologist had to smile. It felt like all of the tension of the day had been washed down the drain and out of his life.

He walked out of the bathroom door and gaped. Intellectually, Blair knew that standing there with his mouth hanging open like a dying fish probably wasn’t his best look, but he figured it was justified.

In the 15 or so minutes that he’d been in the bathroom, the lower level of the loft had been transformed into a romantic oasis.

Candles covered every flat surface. Their soft light made the whole room glow and the barely there vanilla scent was nice without being overwhelming. The dining room table was covered with a tablecloth that Blair hadn’t seen before and their best dishes.

Sandburg had no idea how Jim had managed all that in such a short time. But then again, he was used to Ellison being Superman in their work life, so why not in their home life, too.

“Jim?” he asked, spotting the Sentinel in the kitchen doorway, one hip leaning against the supporting wall.

“This,” the Sentinel waved a hand, indicating the loft and its decorations, “is for our Sesqui-Octo anniversary.”

Blair blinked in amazement, trying to decipher. “Our what?!”

“It is our eight and a half year anniversary,” Ellison explained seriously.

Blair gave a small laugh. “Eight and a half, huh?” he confirmed, walking over to stand by his husband.

“Yep. That’s a very important anniversary,” Jim said with a nod.

“Uh huh.”

Blair looked at Jim in amusement. Not only had he arranged all of this, but he had coined his own term for the date.

Jim was still leaning against the wall. He looked uncertain, something that Blair had gotten used to since the mix-up with their 8th anniversary. Blair didn’t like to see his self assured husband looking so worried.

Enough was enough.

Blair marched over and grabbed Jim by the shirt collar, so he could pull the taller man’s face down to a more convenient level. Blair’s lips met Jim’s lips. For a short time, a very short time, Jim let Blair lead the mating dance between them. Then the Sentinel side of his personality took over and he stopped being a passive observer and pulled his lover’s body in close to his.

“Upstairs,” he demanded.

“Uh huh,” Blair agreed, tilting his head to one side so that Jim could lick the side of his neck more efficiently.

Jim was excellent at multi-tasking. He managed to walk Blair backwards, up the stairs, and onto their bed without tripping or falling. Of, course, Blair wasn’t exactly a slacker either; he managed to strip his husband of his clothes, and incidentally lose his own along the way.

====

Downstairs, the statue of Jim, Blair and their spirit guides stood watch, as always, over the lovers. Blair had given Jim the statue three weeks after their getaway.

Upstairs, just like in the statue, Jim and Blair were twined around one another. Blair lay, with his head on Jim’s chest, and enjoyed the snuggle. Jim shivered as Blair’s breath caused waves of sensation across his chest. The Sentinel twirled a curl of cinnamon colored hair around his forefinger and thanked god for Blair’s forgiving nature.

“Happy Anniversary, Jim.”

“Happy Anniversary, Blair.”

The End

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Acknowledgments: Betaed by Bobbie

Author’s Notes: +The Pit of Despair is from the movie, The Princess Bride.

Happy Anniversary, My Mongoose! {Thanks!} :)