Calender Guide by Kerensa

Calendar Guide - Kerensa

January

“January. You start the year off fine.”

“Man, this is ridiculous!” Blair Sandburg yelled as he squished his way across the living room floor.

Jim Ellison, Sentinel, and more than a little anal where his floors were concerned, looked at the mess with a raised eyebrow. There was a long trail, from the front door to where Blair was currently standing, of foul, nasty looking water. As if sensing the stare, the younger man whirled around, sending drops of water flying around him in a cloud. Ellison flinched when he saw some of the moisture land on the chair.

“Don’t even say it, man. This is all your fault,” Blair said with a scowl. To Jim, he looked like a little puppy trying to act fierce, but only succeeding in looking, well, puppyish. However, the older man was no fool, so he didn’t share that little observation with his pissed off friend.

“Mine?” the detective asked in all innocence, pointing a finger at his chest. “I’ve been sitting right here. What did I do to cause you to look like…” he waved a hand at Blair’s drenched clothing. “…that?”

“Exactly!” Blair waved a finger at the older man. “You just had to have more beer and popcorn. Couldn’t wait until tomorrow and have something else instead.”

“Uh.” It was true; he had sent the observer out into the inclement weather for more supplies. He glanced at the balcony window and winced at the force of the rain as it slammed into the glass. The Sentinel felt a twinge of guilt, but it was New Year’s! They had to have some munchies! It wasn’t his fault that their supplies had run out just after the ball had dropped on the T.V.

“Now, you’ve got your goodies. I’m taking a shower.” With that pronouncement, the curly haired man stomped off. He slammed the bathroom door behind him in a fit of pique that the meditative younger man rarely displayed.

The Sentinel eyed the sacks from the convenience store just down the road guiltily, but with a touch of pride, too. Blair had gone out, in lousy weather, at one o’clock in the morning, just because Jim wanted some beer.

And popcorn, his mind added, as if that made it alright. What was wonderful was that Blair did it for him. Granted, he groused all the way, but he went, just for Jim.

The two plastic bags were sitting forlornly by the front door where Blair had left them when he’d stomped in. The fact that the environmentally conscious anthropologist used the plastic bags of doom as he called them only emphasized how bad the weather was.

Jim placed the beer into the refrigerator and the popcorn into the microwave, ready to start popping the moment that Blair emerged from his shower. The Sentinel dialed up his sense of hearing and listened in on his roommate. Jim didn’t do that very often, because he respected Blair’s privacy, and he didn’t do it lightly. But the younger man had suffered through a cold that had turned to bronchitis during the latter part of the year and the Sentinel didn’t want him to have a setback. Luckily, Blair’s lungs sounded clear. Of course, it was still a little early for there to be any symptoms yet.

Jim glanced at his watch. Blair’s shower had been going on for an awfully long time. The Sentinel looked out the window at the dark and rain soaked night. He knew that it was cold, being December, and Blair would really be cold, being Blair. Thinking about it for a moment, it dawned on him that Blair hadn’t taken a change of clothes into the bathroom with him. Getting him something warm and dry to wear might pull Jim’s butt out of the doghouse, at least a little.

In the little bedroom under the stairs, the Sentinel found socks, underwear, a t-shirt, sweat pants and an old, worn out flannel shirt. The shirt was one of Blair’s favorites and had been worn enough that the colors were muted and the pattern faded to being unrecognizable.

Tap. Tap.

“Hey, Chief. I’ve got some clothes…for…..you.”

The Sentinel’s voice trailed off at the sight in front of him. It was Blair in the shower, an occurrence that he heard every day. Heard, but didn’t see. Now, he was seeing everything.

The clear plastic shower curtain didn’t hide anything; in fact, it subtly blurred the image, making it feel like a dream. Blair’s long, curly hair hung down his back. The locks were darkened by the water, almost appearing black. His head was tilted back, so that his face was directly in the path of the water, and that let his hair hang down even further.

Jim’s eyes followed the path of those silken curls, past where they ended just above one of the most perfect butts that the ex-Ranger had ever seen. It was rounded, without being too large, and had a dimple in each cheek. Blair’s legs were strong and muscular with a fair amount of dark hair, just like the rest of him.

Unfortunately, Blair had his back to Jim, so the older man couldn’t see the rest of him, and he so desperately wanted to see the rest of that body. Touch it. Lick the droplets of water from him…

Ellison moaned. He was swaying as he fought his natural instincts which screamed at him to grab and possess the smaller man.

“Just leave them on the sink, man.” Blair’s voice broke through the haze on Jim’s brain. Luckily, it was before he did something that would ruin their friendship.

“No problem, Chief.” Jim’s voice cracked when Blair began to move a soapy washcloth over one hip. If the grad student noticed anything, he didn’t let on. “I’ll…” Ellison gave up on explaining and quickly walked out of the room.

Shutting the door behind him, Jim gasped for breath. He walked over to the balcony door and leaned against the cool glass. Anything to cool down his raging hard on. If Blair came out and noticed how hard Jim was, he might tumble to the fact that Ellison had been admiring his form a little more than a buddy should.

He tried to think of the case they were working on, the one with the dismembered bodies that had been in the water for two weeks. He glanced down. Nope. Still hard enough to pound nails.

Jim tried to picture some of the guys at the station naked. Weird, but still didn’t get the job done. He thought of Chancellor Edwards, the bitch, naked and waving him down. That made him nauseated, but still didn’t settle anything down between his legs. Because, no matter what, his mind always returned to the same image of Blair, naked and wet in the shower.

“Now, that’s the way to start the New Year,” the Sentinel admitted.

****

When Blair emerged from the bathroom, he left behind his bad humor and a seriously steamed up room. He came into the living room to find his roommate sitting on the couch, a bowl of popcorn in his lap and two beers sitting on the coffee table.

“Sit down, Chief. That movie you wanted to see is about to start.”

“Cool,” Blair said with a smile. He plopped down on the couch, next to Jim. “Thanks for getting me a beer.”

“No, thank you for going out in this weather and getting them for me.” Jim looked over at the younger man and smiled.

“You’re welcome, Big Guy.”

Blair reached into the large metal bowl of popcorn sitting in the middle of Jim’s lap. He didn’t notice that Ellison twitched his hips each and every time Blair reached in, but he did.

“Happy New Year, Jim.”

“Happy New Year, to you too, Chief.”

February

You’re my little valentine.”

“Oooooh, lookie at what I got.”

Jim sighed and turned around to see what Henri was crowing about this time. It was a large, Mylar balloon in the shape of a heart. Attached to the end of the string was an obscenely large box of chocolates, in a heart shaped box, of course. The black man moved aside another box, this time of cookies, to make place for the newest arrangement on his already overcrowded desk. Knowing that he was the center of attention, at least for the moment, he straightened his red and green Hawaiian print shirt and tried not to look smug. He failed.

Valentine’s Day had hit the station with the strength of a Category 4 hurricane. Everyone’s desk was covered with flowers, candies and more. Everyone, even Ted Blanchard, who was the biggest jerk in the building, if not the city, had an impressive haul.

So far, Rhonda, Simon’s much treasured secretary, had the biggest amount of loot on and sitting on the floor around her desk. The blond woman had recently gotten married and her husband of four months was going all out on this first, special holiday. Of course, other people who wanted to get in, or remain in, her good graces had sent small offerings themselves. Simon Banks had sent a very nice bouquet of carnations and ferns.

“That’s great, Brown,” Jim commented with a sigh and roll of his eyes. He was getting mightily sick and tired of saying that; not a big surprise, since he had been making the comment to one person or another all day.

“Hey, Jim.”

Ellison glanced up and smiled at his young friend. “Hey, Chief.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody,” the anthropologist said to the room in general. He got several replies back. “Wow, Hallmark has exploded in here!” Blair exclaimed, as he glanced around the room, wide eyed.

“It sure has,” the Sentinel agreed, rubbing his nose as the scent of all those flowers tickled his olfactory senses. “So, how has your day been?” Jim asked, looking at Blair carefully.

“Oh, it’s been fine,” Blair said with a sincere smile that would have fooled anybody else. Anybody but a Sentinel, that is.

****

A short time earlier (Yes, it’s the dreaded flashback)

Sandburg sighed as he slammed the door of his Corvair. The grad student winced and looked the older car over. Despite protestations to the contrary, Blair knew that his car wasn’t in the best of shape, and treating her rough wasn’t going to extend the longevity of the vehicle.

Blair walked across the PD parking lot, waving to a few of the friendly police officers that he knew. The observer wasn’t in the best of moods. It wasn’t easy watching fellow teachers and friends getting gift after gift, after gift for Valentine’s Day and being the only one who was bereft.

He knew it was his own fault, not that that made it any easier. When Blair dated a woman, he was exclusive. He’d watched his mother, Naomi, breeze through relationships like they were cheap Kleenex and didn’t want that for himself. Mind you, it wasn’t that his mom was easy, just carefree.

So, when he’d begun dating Sam, Blair had ducked out of a lot of opportunities to socialize, both with men and women. But Samantha had proven to be too much of a challenge for the TA.

He could handle her jealousy. Over nothing.

He could even take her more than a little unpredictable behavior. But when the scientist had used Blair in her little experiment, deliberately causing the mixture to blow up in his face, even Blair had given the relationship up as a bad job. Enough was enough. He didn’t need to have his face burnt off because of someone he liked.

So, here it was, the most romantic day of the year and he had squat to show for it. Sam wasn’t going to send him anything, and he would be too leery even if she did, and everybody else thought they were still a couple, so no goodies there either.

Blair slumped against the elevator wall. This was one of the worst Valentine’s Days ever. It was even worse than when he was in the 2nd grade and Nicki Yelanski had laughed and shown everyone the handmade valentine that the weird little Sandburg kid had given her.

Blair leaned against the elevator wall; for once the conveyance wasn’t crowded, in fact, he was alone. Sandburg shivered at the cool touch of the metal on the back of his head. February had started off cold and quickly segued into frigid. Add to that the Corvair’s sporadic heater and you ended up with one thoroughly chilled observer.

The doors opened. Blair straightened up and pasted a happy, carefree smile on his face. The grad student had perfected the look over the years by watching his mother, although, as far as he knew, his mother’s serenity wasn’t occasionally faked.

Sandburg made it into the bullpen, expression intact, by concentrating on Jim’s face. He said hi to several people on the way, but Blair didn’t pay that much attention to who he was talking to.

Ellison’s expression was unusually bleak this afternoon. That indicated that he was either upset or mad about something. Since he wasn’t glaring at Blair, the observer knew that he wasn’t the cause of the upset.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody.” Henri waved a hand in reply and Sandburg heard several other people wishing him a happy day, as well. Blair glanced around the room and felt his heart drop with a thump down into his worn out sneakers. “Wow, Hallmark has exploded in here!”

It was even worse than the university! The younger man gaped at the room. Balloons dotted the room, bobbing gently in the air currents. The smell of various and varied flowers was overwhelming to his average nose, let alone…

The Guide quickly looked at his Sentinel to see how he was coping with the added stimuli. Blair could see the tension in Ellison’s shoulders and the lines of pain in Jim’s face. Automatically, Blair reached a hand over and laid it on the detective’s shoulder; the muscles were bunched up tight under his hand.

“Dial it down, Big Guy,” he intoned in a super soft voice.

The older man relaxed immediately. He looked up at the grad student standing beside his chair and smiled in gratitude. Blair smiled back.

Surreptitiously, the younger man checked out the Sentinel’s desk and nodded internally. Jim’s desk had quite a few treats on it. Some of them were from Blair. Not as many as he would have liked, but more really than his modest budget could afford. He had decided that skipping lunch for, oh say, the next couple of months, was worth it.

Deep inside though, way down, where it really counts, Blair admitted to himself that he was using Valentine’s Day as an excuse to buy something for the man he loved. Blair did want Jim to outshine the others, or at least, have a lot of shine, but it was so much more.

“Looks like you’ve really got a haul there, Big Guy,” Blair stated. He admired the impressive array of things scattered across the detective’s desk.

Where did all this come from? And from who? Blair wondered silently. Not from me, that’s for damn sure.

“Not all of that’s mine, Chief.”

“What?” Blair asked in confusion. He looked where Ellison was pointing and sure enough there was a bouquet of roses with Blair Sandburg written on the card.

****

The look on Sandburg’s face was priceless, well worth every penny he’d spent for the dozen blood red roses. Not that there’d been many pennies; a lot of dollars, but precious few cents.

The look of delight on the younger man’s face was what Jim had hoped the outcome would be when he bought the arrangement. The anthropologist leaned closer to the vase and took a deep sniff of the flowers. His azure eyes closed in bliss as the fragrance filled his nose. Ellison automatically dialed up his sense of smell and joined Blair in appreciation of the aroma.

Blair rubbed the corner of his jaw against one of the flowers. He smiled as the velvety soft petals slid across the corner of his face. Jim gasped softly when he heard the skin of the petal sliding and catching on the tiny bristles on Blair’s cheek. The older man had to force himself to sit still; otherwise, he would have squirmed in his seat, trying to ease the pressure on his suddenly hard cock.

“Car…uh, candy,” Blair said in delight. Sitting right beside the flowers was the biggest box of caramels that Jim could buy. He knew how much Blair loved the small, gooey squares.

****

Jim!

Jim? Blair’s mind questioned.

From under his eyelashes, and behind a curtain of russet curls, Blair looked over at his Sentinel. The candy had to have come from Jim, because no one else even knew that he liked caramels. But…

“Smell the roses,” Jim muttered, almost too quietly for Blair to hear.

Blair grinned, just once, and then hid it quickly. That was what Blair had told Jim the first time they’d tried working on his senses. “Smell the roses.”

He sent the flowers too, Blair reasoned. He hugged the thought to his heart; that made the presents worth more than anything else he could have gotten.

Tucked under the edge of the box, Blair saw a large, white envelope. A warm feeling began to spread from Blair’s heart up to his face, and down lower, too. He opened the envelope and pulled out the card. It was one of the simpler Valentine’s Day cards; one without glitter, crystals, or anything like that.

On the front was a rose garden. It was done up in soft, muted colors, like something Monet would have done. You could almost smell the flowers and feel the sunshine on your face. Inside were three simple words:

Be My Valentine

There wasn’t a signature, but then Blair didn’t need one. He knew he had a silly grin on his face, but Blair couldn’t have wiped it off with acid. Sandburg glanced up at Jim, who was watching him, also with a big grin on his face. Blair looked back down quickly, unsure of what he should do, if anything.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Jim,” Blair offered.

“You too, Chief. You too.”

Blair didn’t say any more. He figured that when Jim was ready for them to acknowledge their growing attraction, the older man would sign the card.

Jim watched happily as Blair propped his card against the edge of his vase. Even if the younger man was as straight as Simon, he still liked the presents.

****

Simon peeked out from between the slats of his blinds. Rhonda’s bouquet was a success, thank heavens. Jim and Blair were both grinning like loons and he wondered what was up with that, for about two seconds.

The larger captain only had eyes for one person, Brian Rafe. The dapper looking detective had a puzzled look on his face. Apparently, he had just noticed the box sitting in the drawer of his desk.

Banks watched breathlessly as the handsome young man carefully raised the lid. The look on his face as Brian snapped the lid back on was priceless, as was the flush that turned his face bright red.

Rafe’s eyes immediately snapped over to Simon’s office. The captain separated the slats a little more, so that the younger man could see him. Brian gave a shy grin. Simon couldn’t wait to try the toy that he’d given his young lover. It was always so much fun to broaden the detective’s horizons.

March

“March. I’m gonna march you down the aisle.”

“Jim, come on! We’re gonna be late.”

Blair shook his head and gave a little laugh at the turnaround. Normally, he was the one running late while his Sentinel waited impatiently. This time, it was Blair who was standing in the middle of the living room, waiting on Ellison; he couldn’t wait to tease the older man about it.

“I’m coming. I’m coming. I can’t find one of my shoes. Keep your pants on, Chief,” Ellison’s muffled voice drifted down the stairs.

Sandburg bit back a groan. If he had his way they would both be coming and his pants would be, like, long gone. However, Blair knew his reputation—he had cultivated it, after all—and Jim’s predilection for red haired bi…uh, women, so he knew that his dreams would stay just that.

After the promise of Valentine’s Day there had been nothing. No lingering looks, no indication of repressed feelings, just…nothing. Blair had been forced to revise his opinion about the presents that he knew Jim had sent him. Instead of being love offerings, he must have sent them so that Blair wouldn’t feel left out. That, in and of itself, was nice and all, but not what Blair wanted.

You can’t always get what you want…

Blair hurried over and turned off the radio with a vicious twist of his wrist, effectively silencing Mick Jagger, mid-song. That was the last thing he needed to hear, especially on a day like today. Sandburg was determined that nothing, not even his own disappointment, was going to ruin the day for Megan and her soon-to-be husband, Michael.

Hearing the soft footfalls that indicated someone was coming down the stairs from the upper loft, Blair turned. His mouth fell open and Blair forgot how to breathe. He vaguely remembered seeing Jim in a tuxedo when he and the rest of the Major Crimes guys had gone to the racetrack, but only just.

Blair had listened to Simon, and had smoked a cigar, and listened to Henri, and drunk quite a bit of brandy. The younger man wasn’t used to either vice and so had spent the latter part of the night barfing into the bushes, because of the tobacco, and hazy because of the liquor.

“Looking good there, man,” Blair said, after he’d managed to remember how to speak. “You’re going to outshine Rafe.”

Jim grinned at Blair as he walked down the rest of the steps. He looked the curly haired man up and down, before he commented.

“I do believe you’re going to give him a run for his money there yourself, Chief.”

Blair ducked his head and turned a delicate shade of rose. “Thanks.” It was easy to see that, although complimented, the younger man wasn’t really comfortable with the flattery.

Sandburg was too busy checking out Jim’s fine form to realize that his own body was being thoroughly appreciated. He tucked a strand of hair behind his ear with the edge of his thumb and bounced up and down on the balls of his feet a little.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

Jim waved at the front door. “Whenever you are.”

****

Blair jiggled his leg nervously. Michael and Megan’s wedding should have started 45 minutes ago and he didn’t know what the delay was. Just a few minutes before the ceremony was supposed to start there had been a commotion at the back of the church. No matter how hard he peeked through the door in the vestibule, Sandburg couldn’t see what was going on.

“Damn. I hope nobody’s been left at the altar,” Blair finally muttered to Jim.

“Yeah. That’d be devastating, to either one of them.”

Sandburg nodded. Megan’s old friend, Michael had breezed into Cascade about six months ago. Although not himself a cop, the transplant from Oz had fit right in with the Australian woman’s friends at the police department. Michael’s job as a security consultant for a major corporation had been close enough to being a cop so that no one really noticed the difference.

For a while, Blair had been jealous of the other man. Michael was tall, muscled, had wavy blond hair and moss green eyes. It wasn’t his spectacular good looks that Blair envied, although they were considerable, but his almost instantaneous acceptance at the station. Blair had been riding with Jim, and coming to Major Crimes, for almost a year and he was still considered an outsider, but Michael was accepted with nary a ripple being made in the closed society.

Despite what was a rocky beginning, Blair and the Aussie man became good friends. One day at a PD picnic, Michael had confided in Blair that he was jealous of the grad student, because of the praise that Megan was constantly giving.

Blair said this and Blair did that,” Michael had said with a grumble.

Blair had hastened to reassure the other man that he was not a threat to their burgeoning relationship. A few weeks later, Megan came in, sporting an engagement ring that must have cost mega bucks.

Being friends with both members of the wedding couple complicated things. Jim had gone to the stag party with Michael, while Blair, because he was Megan’s best friend, had gone to a female stage party with Megan. The male strippers had been appreciated by Blair, just as much as the women had, although the ladies hadn’t realized it at the time.

The anthropologist glanced at Ellison out of the corner of his eye. The whole time that he’d been watching the strippers, all Blair could think of was Jim being in their place. Not in front of a gaggle of women, though. Hell no! If Jim was going to dance like that it was going to be for an audience of one; namely, Blair Jacob Sandburg.

He was startled out of his mental fantasy when a hand touched his shoulder. Blair jumped and turned around to see who was behind him.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” Henri apologized.

“Don’t worry about it, man.” Blair looked back over at Jim, who was smiling at their mutual friend, and then back to the other detective. “So, what’s the delay? Is there a problem?

“Yeah, sort of. A couple of the bridesmaids, Cyndi and Eloise, were in a car wreck on their way over here.”

“How serious?” Jim asked, a frown gracing his forehead.

“So-so,” Brown stated. “They’re going to be okay, but one of the ladies broke her leg and the other one has a concussion. Both are going home.”

“That’s too bad.” Blair could commiserate; he’d had both a broken bone and a concussion. Neither one was fun.

The first strains of the Wedding March, played by Mrs. Luigi on the piano, snapped all three men to attention. “That’s our cue,” Jim said. He placed a hand in the small of Blair’s back to guide him to the door of the vestibule.

Blair listened to the minister as he talked of love and forever. The ceremony was longer than he was used to at a wedding, so he let his mind wander a bit. His eyes slid out of focus as he imagined himself in Megan’s place.

Not in a white wedding gown, though. Blair snickered to himself at that image. But getting married to Jim, yes, that would be a dream come true.

Sandburg shifted his feet a little and managed to lean into Jim, who was standing beside him. The older man’s form was a warm, solid presence at his side.

Jim’s hand slid along Blair’s back, sending tingles along his spine. Blair shivered slightly and then refocused himself on his two friends, whose day it was, after all.

****

The vows were almost finished when Blair realized there was going to be a problem. As groomsmen, he and Jim were each supposed to escort a bridesmaid back down the aisle. The only problem was that both of their dates were injured, and therefore not there.

Jim looked at Blair. Blair looked back at him, his bottom lip was being worried between Blair’s white teeth. Jim shrugged and stuck out an elbow. The anthropologist grinned and hooked his arm through the proffered arm. The two men nonchalantly marched down the aisle.

For Ellison, it was a dream come true, being able to hold onto Blair. The younger man was in hog heaven. Not only was he on Jim’s arm, but they were together in public! It was the best of both worlds; Blair could snuggle next to Jim and no one would be the wiser.

****

Joel Taggart felt his wife’s hand on his arm. The large captain smiled over at the woman who had comprised his life for the last 30 years and smiled. He saw the tears in her eyes and gallantly offered Amelia his handkerchief; weddings always brought out the romantic in her.

He looked back up, just in time to see Blair looping his arm through Jim’s. By now, they all knew about the accident and the missing bridesmaids. The two men were making the best of a bad situation.

The bomb squad captain snorted and then covered the noise by coughing. Yeah, right, he thought in amusement. I wonder if those two are ever going to catch a clue? he wondered.

Joel shook his head at their determined blindness. It was obvious to anyone with eyes that they were desperately in love with each other.

April

“You're the Easter Bunny when you smile.”

Blair strolled out of the bathroom wearing only a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, like he didn’t have a care in the world; as if his being so unclothed was an everyday occurrence. Jim’s jaw hit the floor and stayed there, along with his brain, which had leaked out of his ears at the sight.

Ellison was used to Blair being covered up, from head to toe, and then some. It wasn’t unusual for the body shy young man to wear several layers of shirts and t-shirts, and that was during the summer.

This time though, Blair had one, white t-shirt, fairly form fitting, and a pair of blue, knit shorts. The shirt was tight enough that Jim could easily see the outline of the younger man’s nipple ring. The shorts…

Jim swallowed hard and tried his best to drag his eyes away from the bulge nestled between his best friend’s legs. Blair passed by, on his way to his bedroom, and Jim had another dilemma, because the view going was just as sweet as the one coming had been. Blair’s ass was something to write poetry about; round, firm and tempting.

The Sentinel folded the copy of the Time’s magazine that he’d been reading and fanned himself several times, trying to cool off his overheated face. There was nothing in those glossy pages that could compete with Blair, dressed as he normally did or in the abbreviated attire Jim had just witnessed. Nothing.

Amazingly, that thought did nothing to cool Jim down. So, the Sentinel picked up his cold bottle of beer and held it to his face. Nope. Still no deal. He nestled the bottle, which was quickly warming up in his hand, in the vee between his legs, right next to the part of his body that really needed cooling off. That helped, but the layers of sweat pants and underwear put too much distance between the glass and the problem.

Finally, in utter desperation—because he couldn’t let Blair come out and see just how inspired he’d been by the Blair show—Ellison pulled the band of his pants out and poured some of the beer directly onto his underpants. Jim gasped and slammed a hand against his mouth to stifle the yelp that tried to escape. The alcoholic beverage had the desired effect and Jim could feel his erection shrinking.

“So, uh…” Jim cleared his throat, took a drink from his bottle of beer, and tried again. This time he didn’t sound like a 13 year-old boy whose voice was changing. “So, where are you going today?” he was finally able to ask.

“St. Vincent’s orphanage, over on Cleveland St.,” Blair’s answer was muffled by the French doors and presumably the clothes he was getting into. Naturally, Jim simply dialed up his sense of hearing to compensate. The Sentinel was used to listening and talking with his Guide, no matter where they were in the loft.

The Sentinel looked down to make sure that his pants were back in place and that there wasn’t any evidence of his cool down effort. Luckily, there weren’t any telltale wet spots, of any kind, on the dark material of his sweats. Jim squirmed unhappily. His underwear had absorbed the beer. It was cold and wet against his groin, which wasn’t very pleasant.

“An orphanage, huh.” Jim frowned, trying to get back on target. “Damn, I didn’t think there was a need for orphanages any more, not with Foster Care and all.”

He sniffed and frowned again. The smell of the beer was the one thing that he couldn’t hide. Oh well, there wasn’t anything to do now, because Blair was coming out.

“There usually isn’t, but there are a few still around,” Blair replied, as he walked out of his bedroom.

Ellison grinned, he couldn’t help it. Blair was just so darn cute!

“Laugh it up, man,” Blair said. His face was a bright red, which contrasted nicely with his costume.

“No, no, Chief. I think what you’re doing is great.” Jim smiled and looked Blair up and down. “Besides which, you’re cute.”

“Cute?” Blair said sourly. His left hand was bunched in a fist on his hip, while clutched in the other was his head; his fake head, that is.

Ellison stood up and walked over to the younger man. “Chief. I hate to break it to you, but you have on a white, bunny costume, complete with big feet, floppy ears and little whiskers. You are damned cute.”

Blair laughed and shrugged. The movement looked odd on his fur covered shoulders, making them ripple. Jim walked around behind Blair, circling him, as it were. And, yep, there was a big, fluffy white cottontail.

“And tail, too.”

Blair jumped and turned. He gave Jim a surprised look and the Sentinel realized that he’d patted said tail, which was conveniently situated over Blair’s butt.

Ellison realized that he should be panicking, but since Blair didn’t seem upset, he decided to go with it. After a moment, Blair recovered and gave Jim a slow, sensual grin.

Now, it was Jim’s turn to be astonished. Maybe there was hope after all.

****

Blair didn’t quite know what to do when Jim touched his butt. It was more than a caress, but less than a grope. Darn it!

The resulting semi-erection felt strange. It was disconcerting to be hard while in a bunny costume and going to see some little kids. He wondered if that was how some perverts felt and quickly went soft.

It all happened so quickly—Jim touching him, getting hard, losing the erection—that it left Blair feeling dizzy and disoriented. He glanced over his shoulder and saw the deer-in-headlights look on Jim’s face.

So, it wasn’t an innocent touch, after all, he hypothesized. Cool.

The anthropologist took a deep breath to say something. When he did so, Blair got a whiff of beer. More than a whiff, actually. He didn’t think that the older man was drunk, but from the smell of him, it was entirely possible. That made Blair hesitate.

What if Jim is out of control because the alcohol has his senses going wonky? Blair wondered. I better cool it for a while, just in case. Give Jim a chance to sober up and then see what happens.

Sandburg glanced at the clock over the refrigerator and frowned. “I’ve gotta go, man, or I’ll be late,” he said with regret.

“I understand,” Jim sounded equally sad that the younger man had to leave. “You can’t disappoint all those kids.”

“No. Everybody gets a kick out of seeing the Easter bunny.”

Jim nodded. He knew that he’d enjoyed the glimpses he had gotten. “I’ll be here when you get back,” Ellison promised.

Blair turned away from the door and smiled hesitantly. “Cool.”

The Sentinel listened to Blair’s heartbeat as he went downstairs and over to his car. There were sounds of giggling that surrounded the bunny as he walked along; some of it even from the little kids. It was a good hearted, isn’t he cute type of thing, though, so Blair didn’t get upset, which would have necessitated Jim dealing with the adults.

Jim was glad that he didn’t have to hurt anyone. Blair would have been upset and blood doesn’t come out of fur, even fake fur, that easily.

****

Once again, Jim was not watching the bathroom door, waiting for Blair to come out. It was too much to hope that he’d be in the shorts and t-shirt again. Blair had just worn the abbreviated outfit underneath his bunny costume because the fur covered attire was very hot inside.

The door opened and to Jim’s regret, Blair was wearing his typical, slouching around the loft clothes. In other words, Blair had on loose sweats and multiple layers of shirts; all of them hiding that gorgeous body.

At first, Jim had been frustrated when Blair had to leave earlier, but then he began to wonder if it wasn’t a good thing, after all. Blair had seemed happy when Ellison had patted his tail, but what if it had been surprise instead? The Sentinel had a good thing going with his best friend and wasn’t sure if he wanted to risk it, just yet.

“So, what’s on TV, Jim?” Blair asked, as he sat down.

He seemed subdued and Jim felt his heart sink, among other things. “Well, that documentary you wanted to see is coming on in 10 minutes,” Jim offered.

“Cool,” Blair said with a bounce on the cushions. “It’s all about the Aborigines, their rituals and customs.”

Sandburg went on to extol the virtues and wonders of the Aborigine people. Ellison had heard part of it before; after all, Blair had been trying to talk Jim into watching the show for over a week. He let the younger man’s voice wash over him like a warm summer shower.

Even if this is all we ever have, I’ll be content, Jim told himself. It wasn’t that big of a lie, no matter how much he was disappointed.

May

“Maybe if I ask your dad and mom.”

The air reeked of sage; it made Jim’s nose twitch as he valiantly tried to suppress the sneeze that threatened. Their furniture had been rearranged, again, and silky, gossamer scarves hung over the balcony doors. Flower covered scarves!

Jim felt his blood pressure rise as he glared at the offending window coverings. Yes, he had an apron with flowers on it. It was true, he wanted to have sex with his very male roommate in any conceivable way, and on every available surface, but he was still a man, damnit!

The detective smiled over at his dinner companion. He didn’t allow a trace of what was going on in his mind to appear on his face, at least he hoped not. He reckoned that it worked, because Blair’s mom, Naomi, gave him a sweet smile back.

It was hard to stay mad at the titian haired woman, because her intentions were always so selfless, no matter what havoc she might wreak. That was Naomi all over. She’d breeze into town, turn Blair’s life upside down, and then jaunt off to her next retreat, all without realizing there had ever been a problem.

Ellison poked at his lasagna half heartedly. The Sentinel knew that it was vegetarian lasagna and he strongly suspected that some of the filling was made up of tofu. He hated tofu! To the general person the dish probably did taste just as good with the soy product instead of meat and regular cheese, but to a Sentinel there was a rubbery feel to the food, like he was eating a pencil eraser.

Summoning up his courage, the man who had faced down psychopathic killers and entire hordes of whacked out drug heads, bravely took a bite of his faux lasagna. He immediately spat it back out into his napkin.

Blech!

Jim knew that his face was probably contorted into a grimace, but right at that moment, he didn’t care. He looked up and over and saw that Naomi’s mouth was hanging open. Ellison knew that what he’d just done was the height in bad manners, but that lasagna had tasted worse than half raw lizard. And he knew what he was talking about there!

“Uh, sorry about that, Naomi,” Jim apologized. “I just really don’t like tofu.”

Naomi smiled at the obvious understatement, even though Ellison noted that the smile never reached her eyes. “It’s alright, Jim. Not everyone likes to eat the healthier food.”

The Sentinel took a long drink of his iced tea to wash out the nasty taste that still lingered in his mouth. He decided not to correct her, but Blair’s cooking was always healthy and it never tasted like that crap did.

“Right.” Jim smiled in return and pulled his salad closer. He gamely tucked into the healthy salad, trying to look as if he’d always wanted to eat something with goat cheese and caraway seeds. However, the cheese tasted only marginally better than the tofu did and, in the Sentinel’s humble opinion, seeds belonged to the birds.

The rest of dinner was strained, to say the least.

While Naomi washed the dishes—‘I insist, Jim. You boys need a woman’s touch.—Jim prowled the edge of the kitchen. It wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate the gesture. Although, who did she think cleaned up the rest of the time? But to Jim’s unerring eye, that pot she’d just cleaned had several spots of food left on it and there was a residue of soap still left on some of the rinsed plates.

Oh, well. I can rewash them after she’s gone, Jim reasoned to himself.

“So, Jim.”

Ellison jumped, startled by her proximity. He had been focusing on the bad taste that was still in his mouth and hadn’t noticed her coming closer. A lot closer.

“Uhm, yes?” The detective took a slight step back. Naomi didn’t seem to notice, but she did lean closer.

“I brought my photo album with me.” It took Jim a moment to recognize the offer in the statement. The last time she’d come to visit, he and Naomi had ended upstairs together, on Jim’s bed, eating tongue and looking at pictures of a young Blair.

“That’s great,” he remarked enthusiastically. Ellison flopped down on one of the white chairs and looked up at her expectantly.

The older woman looked perturbed. Undoubtedly, she had expected that the two of them would look at the pictures in the loft bedroom, just like they had the last time. But Jim well remembered how upset Blair had been when he’d come home to find his mother sitting on Jim’s bed, and the Sentinel didn’t want to disappoint his little Guppy like that again.

****

“How old was he in this one?” Jim asked with a smile.

Naomi leaned closer, balancing the opened photo album on Jim’s knees. It frustrated her that she couldn’t get close enough, because her son’s handsome roommate had sat in a chair, instead of on the sofa with her.

Actually, she’d planned on going upstairs with Jim. Only this time, Blair had a class that was supposed to last until 9 o’clock, and given how much his students liked to talk, Naomi didn’t plan on his being home until 10, at the earliest. Certainly long enough for her to finally seduce the detective.

Even for a pig, Ellison was a damned fine looking man, and Naomi had her needs. She watched as Jim’s large hands traced a picture of Blair when he was 5 years old. Naomi could imagine those hands roaming all over her body and twitched at the wave of lust that washed over her.

“Five,” she said huskily. Naomi cleared her throat, as if something had been caught in it; she didn’t want to appear too eager.

Of course, being a Sentinel, Jim could smell the pheromones coming off of her in waves. The detective continued to calmly look over the photos. He was used to ignoring pheromones, because he did work around men all day; young, horny men who became aroused at the slightest provocation. After them, Naomi’s scent was easy to dial down, especially when he pictured the look that would be on Blair’s face if he were to act on Naomi’s not so subtle advances.

His stomach chose that moment to growl. Jim gave Blair’s mom an embarrassed smile. She smiled back serenely, but it was easy to see that she wasn’t happy that he’d skipped most of her fabulous dinner.

“I could fix you something else to eat,” she offered, carefully inching closer to Ellison.

Jim’s smile became strained as he just as carefully slid farther back in his chair. “Uh, no thanks. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll go out for a little bit,” he added desperately. Going out hadn’t been his original intention, but inspiration had struck, along with his hunger, and given the detective a possible out.

“Oh?” Naomi’s voice was frosty now.

Ellison hopped up, dislodging a couple of photos that drifted to the hardwood floor. Jim bent over and retrieved them before Naomi could offer to help him. “Oops.” Jim handed the pictures to the older woman, being careful not to touch her hand. “Yeah. I’m gonna grab something different to eat. Do you want anything?”

“No, thank you anyway. I had enough to eat earlier.”

Jim heard the censure in her tone, but chose to ignore it. If he wanted to get something else to eat in his own home he’d do it, Blair’s mother be damned.

“That’s good.” Jim smiled tightly. He wasn’t going to be intimidated or cowed by anyone. “I shouldn’t be gone very long,” he offered.

“Alright. I’ll be here.”

No kidding, Jim thought sourly. Normally, he didn’t mind when Blair’s mother visited, but this time she was getting on his last nerve. The red haired woman was beautiful, no doubt about it, but it was her curly haired son that Jim wanted, not her.

****

“Hey, Jim, Mom,” Blair called out in greeting. He hung up his jacket on the hook by the door and dropped his keys in the basket provided just for such things.

The grad student was exhausted. He’d gone on stakeout with Jim every night this week, gotten a few, very few, hours sleep and then gotten up and gone to the university. He had been tired even before his mom arrived. Trying to be pleasant and keep the peace between the two most important people in his life drained what little reserves he had left. Plus, the couch wasn’t the most comfortable place to sleep, although, if truth be told, the anthropologist had slept on a lot worse in his time.

Sandburg heard a slight noise behind him and turned around to see the other Sandburg. Blair blinked in surprise, his eyes going wide.

Naomi had on a sheer, gossamer caftan, nothing surprising there, since she wore that sort of outfit a lot. No, the big surprise was that she had nothing on underneath!

“Mom!”

“Blair! Um. Hi, honey. You’re home early. I wasn’t expecting you until later,” she explained, although she didn’t bother to cover herself. Naomi had no problem with nudity, even in front of her own son. She and Blair had been together at enough nudist colonies that even he wasn’t bothered that much anymore. Not much anyway.

Blair was pissed though. Jim might not realize that Blair was bi, but his mom did and she knew just how important Ellison was to her son. Too bad that didn’t bother her.

“Obviously,” he replied sardonically. Naomi had the grace to look chagrined at being caught in her seduction attempt. “Where’s Jim?” he asked through gritted teeth.

Naomi shrugged one shoulder indifferently. “He went out.” She gave a little sniff. “He didn’t seem to like what I fixed for supper. You really need to get him to eat better, darling.”

The young man just glared at his mother. He knew that Jim ate right—which wasn’t really any of her business anyway—and that she was trying to lead the conversation off on a new tangent, and get herself off the hook. Blair knew all of his mother’s ways though and was about to call her on it when the front door opened.

“Hey, Chief. I’m glad you’re back. Are you hungry? I brought something to eat for you too, just in c…” Ellison’s mouth fell open when he realized what Naomi was wearing. Or rather, what she wasn’t wearing.

Ellison had to admit that if he’d been straight, or straighter anyway, he would have been tempted by the display. Naomi’s skin was flawless, even to his superior eyesight. Her breasts were firm and round, with alluring glimpses of a dark triangle lower down on her body. The filmy wrap hid nothing, but the slide of glittery fabric over her body gave it an ethereal quality that was hard to resist. Of course, that was the idea.

The Sentinel tore himself away from the tantalizing sight and shot his friend a questioning look. Blair’s jaw was clenched so tightly that Jim, who was the King of Tight Jawed Men everywhere, winced.

Jim deliberately turned his back on the woman and walked over to the dinning room table. “Don’t you think you ought to put some clothes on?” he suggested tightly.

He heard Naomi gasp when he turned away and was pretty sure that his seeming indifference to her nakedness was really pissing the older woman off. From stories that Blair had told, Jim knew that Blair’s mother had never left the free love portion of the 60’s behind; she most likely hadn’t been turned down very often in her life.

Blair watched as his mother floated, with a very determined step—something that only Naomi could manage—into Blair’s room before he followed Jim over to the table. A wide array of Wonderburger foods were scattered across the tabletop.

“Thanks, man.”

“You’re welcome, Chief.” Jim and Blair both knew that the anthropologist was talking about more than the burger and fries that the Sentinel had brought him.

****

The next afternoon found Blair at the airport with his mother. Blair was standing at the bank of windows, watching as Naomi’s flight began to taxi down the runway. Not for the first time in his life, the grad student was glad to see his mom leave. Blair loved the free spirited woman with all his heart, but she did tend to cause problems; the previous night had been a prime example.

At least she didn’t wreak too much havoc this time, Blair thought to himself.

His mother’s reaction to Jim, and (gasp) Blair eating a hamburger and French fries, had been almost amusing and definitely worth the added clogging to his arteries. Maybe she would think before she tried to seduce any of his lovers, or potential lovers, as the case may be.

****

Ellison glanced at his watch and breathed a sigh of relief. If her flight was on time, then Naomi was now officially out of Cascade.

Jim had planned on asking Naomi’s advice about Blair and possibly her permission to court him. After the scene the night before, Ellison decided that she was the last person he should ask about what Blair would want.

What the hell was I thinking anyway? he asked himself. What are we, in medieval times? Like I need to ask anybody’s permission to go for Blair.

The Sentinel sighed and shook his head. He peered closer at the form he was filling out on the computer and realized that he’d written Naomi’s name in the space for the accused.

A Freudian slip, Ellison thought with a snicker. I’d better concentrate or I’m going to get in a whole world of trouble. The Sentinel thought about what Blair’s reaction would be if he saw his mom’s name on a police report and smiled.

Now, what to do about seducing the younger man?

June

“They'll let me take to you to the Junior prom.”

“Sure. Sure, I understand, Melody,” Jim said quietly into his cell phone. It was unusual enough that Ellison got what amounted to a personal call during working hours, but one from a woman, who wasn’t a colleague—since, of course, that would have made it business, not personal—was even rarer.

Blair glanced over at the detective curiously. He immediately ducked his head back down and concentrated on typing yet another of Jim’s reports.

It’s not any of my business, he reminded himself sharply. That didn’t stop the observer from looking over out of the corner of his eye and hoping that he accidentally overheard more of the conversation.

“Don’t worry about it,” Jim continued to console Melody, whoever the hell she was; obviously some evil bitch. Just look at the way she’d upset Jim.

Ellison closed his cell phone closed with a snap and sighed. Despite his inner monologue, Blair couldn’t keep quiet in the face of such sadness.

“What’s up, man?” the anthropologist asked in a Sentinel soft tone.

“It’s nothing,” Jim said, waving a hand dismissively before turning back to the files on his desk, the ones that he’d been perusing before the call had interrupted him.

Blair knew intellectually that the smart thing to do would be for him to let Jim get away with the obfuscation, but then no one had ever accused him of being smart, not where Ellison was concerned anyway. He rested one elbow on the desk beside Jim and leaned closer, pretending to study the file that Jim was working on.

“Come on, man. I can see that something’s upset you,” Blair cajoled in a whispered tone of voice.

Jim started to shake his head in denial, but stopped. “That was my date for the Policeman’s Ball,” he admitted finally. “She had to cancel on me, because her mom fell and broke her hip last night.”

“Oh, man, that’s too bad,” Blair empathized.

“Yeah,” Jim agreed. “She’s flying out this afternoon, and since her mother lives in Detroit…”

“She won’t be able to go with you tomorrow night to the party,” Blair finished for him.

“Right.”

Blair watched as that tiny muscle in Jim’s jaw twitched; the ex-Ranger’s No. 2 sign of distress and tension, at least it wasn’t the No. 1 sign, where the vein on his temple pulsed madly. The grad student rubbed a hand across Jim’s shoulders a couple of times to relax the older man.

“You’ll find another date.”

“I don’t know, Chief. It’s awfully late notice.”

“Yeah, right,” Blair said with a laugh.

Jim turned and looked at him, one eyebrow raised questioningly. “What do you mean by that, Darwin?” he asked, again utilizing that inquisitive eyebrow.

“Take a look at yourself, Jim.” Blair waved a hand, indicating the other man’s body. “You are seriously hot. All you’ll have to do is wave your hand and the babes will be panting at your doorstep.”

Ellison looked amazed at being called seriously hot. Blair thought back over the last minute’s worth of conversation and blushed a deep rose color. Henri had heard Blair’s comment, if the grin on his face was any indication.

“Uh, anyway.” Suddenly, the computer screen was immensely interesting.

****

Blair stood at the stove, shaking his head as he stirred the Alfredo sauce he was cooking for dinner. Honestly, the anthropologist didn’t know what was up with the women in Cascade. He had been listening to Jim call and receive answers back for the last couple of hours and he still didn’t have a date for the Policeman’s Ball.

“That’s it, I give up,” Ellison said. He clicked the portable phone off and dropped it back on its charger. I’ll just go stag,” he announced.

“Oh no you won’t!” Blair stated with certainty, as he whirled around. Alfredo sauce flicked off the end of the wooden spoon as Blair shook it vehemently. “You can’t just show up empty handed,” he said indignantly.

“Chief!” the fastidious Sentinel looked at the splatters on the floor in horror.

“Sorry, Big Guy.”

Blair turned back to the stove and tried to ignore the detective who was kneeling at his feet, a bottle of environmentally friendly, and more importantly, Sentinel friendly, cleaner in one hand and a paper towel, made from recycled materials in the other. The grad student had managed to combine a Sentinel safe home with one that was good for the environment.

Naomi would be so proud. If she wasn’t, you know, off pouting somewhere. Blair’s mom seriously didn’t like having her advances rejected.

Sandburg gave a little grin as he remembered something. Jim’s reaction to the recycled towels had been interesting, to say the least.

“Recycled from what, Chief?”

“Used toilet paper,” Blair quipped.

The dirty look that the older man had given him had been less than amused. Blair had given Ellison a sincere look and fluttered his eyelashes. The tension had broken like a weakened dam when Jim laughed at the joke.

The observer was glad that the towels had sparked that amusing memory, because having the man of his dreams on his knees in front of him brought up some of Blair’s biggest fantasies, among other things. It wasn’t safe to get that aroused around Ellison, who could literally smell the arousal, not unless there was someone else in the vicinity that Blair could blame for the hard on.

“You, uh,” Blair cleared his throat nervously, “called everybody? I can’t believe that there isn’t anybody available.

Jim stood up, put away his cleaning supplies and shrugged one shoulder dismissively. “I don’t know what else to tell you, Chief. I’ve called all of the women I know. The ones I could reach either already have plans for tomorrow or have significant others now and are therefore off the dating market.”

Ellison picked up his little black book—which was really a red, spiral notebook that he wrote important numbers in, but let’s not belabor the point—and began to cross out a significant number of names.

“We’ll figure out something,” Blair reassured Ellison.

Jim nodded, a sad look on his somber face. “Right, Chief.”

“Come on, dinner is ready.” Blair gestured the detective to the dinning room table. He had a germ of an idea, but wasn’t sure what Jim’s reaction was going to be.

****

“Do you really think this will be alright?” Blair asked for about the thousandth time.

The anthropologist was worried, even though this had been his idea. He knew that in closed societies, like the police department, being able to depend on your buddy could literally be a matter of life and death. He also knew what it was like to be the outsider, the one that people helped only when they had to. Tonight might cause Jim to be shifted from his side of the fence to Blair’s and the observer couldn’t stand the thought of Jim being in danger because of him.

“Yes, Chief. I do.” Ellison answered in a patient tone, despite the many times that Blair had asked the question. Jim turned away from the bathroom mirror, where he was looking as he straightened his tie. “Are you sure this is alright?” he asked softly, praying that Blair didn’t change his mind, but giving the younger man the out if he needed it.

Blair nodded vigorously, a little too vigorously really. Jim narrowed his eyes at the grad student. Sandburg closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath. He slowly exhaled and Jim realized that he was using meditation techniques to calm himself down.

“Jim, I am more than up with being your date for tonight. But what about the other guys? Won’t you get in trouble when they realize I’m your escort?” Blair’s sapphire blue eyes stared into Jim’s lighter blue ones seriously.

“Why would this year be any different than last year?” Ellison said with a grin, trying to lighten the moment. He slipped an arm around Blair’s shoulders, happy for any excuse to touch his Guide.

“Man, everybody knew that I was part of the ruse to get you to the Cop of the Year award ceremony last year. In this instance, that won’t work, because all the guys know that you refused to even let yourself be considered this time.”

Ellison nodded. “Yeah, I’ve had enough glory,” Jim’s voice was heavy with sarcasm when he said the word glory. “Let somebody else have a crack at it.”

“But…” Blair tried to protest. He stopped when Jim raised his index finger in the air.

“It will be fine, Darwin.”

Jim held out Blair’s coat and helped slip it on the younger man, over the tuxedo that Blair was wearing. Both men were wearing monkey suits, since the Ball was a very big occasion for the police department. Blair never even noticed the date like behavior. Jim tossed his coat over his arm and gestured for the younger man to precede him out the door.

“Okay, Big Guy. I trust you.”

“Good.”

Jim was happy. It had taken him a while, but the effort was worth it. Melody was a wonderful daughter, going to be with her injured mother and all. Or, at least, she would have been if Melody was a real person.

Of course, he hadn’t really called anyone else to find a date either. If Blair were a suspicious person, which he was not, he’d have checked the phone records and he would have discovered a large amount of inquiries for the time and date, all in the same evening. But Blair didn’t think along those lines, so he was blissfully unaware that he’d been Jim’s date all along.

It was one happy Sentinel who walked into the Policeman’s Ball with a very dapper looking Guide on his arm.

****

Simon looked up when he heard Rafe chuckle. It was a soft, warm sound, like golden honey pouring in his ears and the captain reveled in it for a few moments.

“What’s so funny?” Banks asked quietly.

“Look at the main door,” Brian suggested quietly. He had raised his glass of champagne in front of his mouth, so no one else even knew that they were talking.

Banks looked over at the door and had to smile himself. Jim and Blair were standing side by side, looking very handsome in their Armani tuxedoes.

Under normal circumstances, Blair Sandburg, grad student and volunteer observer at the PD, could not have afforded a tuxedo, let alone an Armani one. Simon remembered when Jim had insisted on buying a tux for the younger man. Blair had agreed, before he knew how expensive a suit the Sentinel was purchasing.

The two men started to saunter over to where Simon and Rafe were. Well, Jim was sauntering, Blair was walked self consciously by the detective’s side. The two of them were more obvious than if they’d been holding hands.

Simon exchanged an amused look with his lover.

I wonder how long it will be before they take the final step? Simon wondered internally. Watching as the two men accidentally brushed against one another as they walked, he figured that it wouldn’t be long.

****

Rhonda took a sip of her punch and watched the quartet standing in the corner, her attention riveted on the good looking group of men. Blair was talking animatedly about something, waving his hands around; eyes bright with emotion over something that was obviously important to him. Jim, as usual, was watching the curly haired man with a slight smile on his patrician face. Simon and Rafe were close enough to wear the same jacket and had been all night.

As Banks’ secretary, she knew more about her boss than he undoubtedly would be comfortable with. His relationship with Brian would surprise most people, but the blond woman had seen how they looked at each other when they thought no one was watching. Blair had always looked upon Ellison with a wide eyed wonderment that bordered on adoration. Those feelings had slowly evolved until wonder had turned to love. Jim was probably the hardest nut to crack. He seemed to be opening his heart again for love. Rhonda just hoped that he wasn’t going to let a little thing like them both being men keep him from finding the treasure right in front of him.

They are so married, she thought with a snort.

July

“Like a firecracker all aglow.”

The door flung open, hard enough that it knocked against the brick wall behind it. The impact sent the door rebounding the way it had just come. Jim held out one hand to keep the heavy green door from smacking him in the face as he stomped into the loft. Blair followed meekly behind him. He shut the door quietly and carefully inspected the wall, knowing that Jim would be really pissed if there was any damage. Luckily, there wasn’t.

“I’m sorry, Chief.”

Blair looked over at Jim, who was standing by the balcony doors, and frowned at the apology. “Jim, it’s not your fault.”

“Of course it is.” Ellison turned to look at Sandburg. “If it wasn’t for these damned senses, then the smells from the picnic and the loud sounds wouldn’t have bothered me so much and we wouldn’t have had to leave the picnic.

Jim knew how much Blair had been looking forward to the 4th of July picnic that some of the guys from the station had arranged. The younger man had talked of nothing else for weeks, stressing how thrilled he was to be included in a group activity.

And these frickin’ senses had to go and ruin it!

Most of the time, Ellison liked the advantage that having enhanced senses gave him. Other times, he’d take two cents to chuck it all. This was one of those times.

“Jim, any problems that your senses cause you are far outweighed by the advantages.” Blair turned away and shrugged his left shoulder. “At least, they are to me. I know you have to put up with a lot of pain sometimes. I don’t know if they would be worth going through that,” the grad student admitted.

No senses would have meant not going to the hospital for tests, which in turn, would have meant no meeting Dr. McKay. No senses equaled no Blair. No way, Jose!

“Chief, I’d rather have you and the senses any day.”

Blair grinned at Ellison’s statement. They had slowly been inching towards one another for months now. This was the first declaration of sorts that Jim had ever made. The younger man’s heart felt warm and he knew that a happy grin was on his face. A smile graced Jim’s face in return.

“And I’d sure as hell rather have you and the senses than any fireworks display,” Blair stated categorically.

“Thanks.”

Jim took a step closer and Blair felt his heart begin to pound. Ellison’s eyes flicked down to the anthropologist’s chest, so there was no doubt that the Sentinel heard the telltale signs of Blair’s nervousness.

Knowing that a relationship, if they were ever going to have one, would be a give and take proposition. Jim had just given, so…

Blair took a step towards Jim. He saw Jim swallow hard, watching as his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down convulsively. It was nice to know that he could see how affected Ellison was by the steps—literally and figuratively—that they were taking tonight.

They stood that way, facing one another silently, for what felt like forever, but was really only a minute or so. Blair had just opened his mouth to break the silence when Ellison tilted his head to one side in his ever popular listening pose.

“What’s up, man?” Blair’s voice was husky. He cleared his throat nervously when Jim’s sight lasered in on him; the older man had heard the suppressed passion in his tone.

“I don’t think that you’ll have to miss that fireworks show after all, Chief.”

“Oh?”

Jim turned toward the balcony doors. He reached back and took hold of Blair’s hand, tugging him along for the ride. Not that Blair was reluctant or anything.

No, the anthropologist was thrilled to go anywhere that Jim wanted him to go. Blair would follow the Sentinel to Outer Mongolia, if that’s what Ellison wanted, so the balcony was no big deal at all.

****

Blair stood by his side as they watched the fireworks lighting up the city. Jim let himself relax and enjoy the display, knowing that his Guide was by his side and that Blair would keep him from zoning out on the lights and sounds.

He knew in his heart that the younger man would always be by his side. Yes, that’s right. He, James Joseph Ellison, Grand Master of Repression and Emperor of Insecurities finally trusted someone with his heart. And, it wasn’t a red head, criminal or otherwise. No, it was a short, curly haired, Jewish bookworm.

Jim had never been so happy in all his life. Marriage to Carolyn had been torture compared to this and that union hadn’t been too bad, until the last couple of months, hence their still being friends, even after the divorce.

Ellison decided to be bold. He’d already crossed a lot of lines today that he’d never thought he’d cross with Blair. Encouraged by his earlier successes, Jim reached over and took Blair’s hand in his. The grad student gave him a delighted smile and slid a little closer.

It didn’t bother the ex-Ranger that he was standing in plain sight of several other apartments, where more people were enjoying the fireworks, basically holding hands with his very male partner. Jim wanted Blair. It seemed fairly obvious that Blair wanted Jim, so anybody else could stick it.

“Woah!” Blair gasped and grinned over at Jim. He looked back at the enormous plume of red, white and blue streaks of light that were cascading from the exploding American flag lighting up the sky.

Jim took one look at the display and turned back to Blair. He was so enthralled with the pyrotechnic demonstration that he didn’t notice Ellison’s scrutiny. To Jim, Blair looked like a little kid going to his first party. Of course, he looked like that every time there was a display like this one. Even the individual sparklers inspired a look of awe on Blair’s face.

****

“That was so awesome,” Blair said enthusiastically about 45 minutes later.

“Yes, it was.” Only Jim wasn’t talking about the fireworks.

Blair’s eyes met his and he heard what Jim really meant. “Do we have to go in yet?” he asked softly. In the apartments and buildings around them, people were going back inside now that the show was over.

“No, not if you don’t want to.”

Sandburg shook his head. Jim reached a hand up to run his fingers alongside the curls that danced with the movement. Blair stilled and reveled in the intimate caress.

“How about if we sit out here?” Blair gestured to the two lounge chairs which took up quite a bit of space in the small area.

“Sounds good to me,” Ellison said.

Not letting go of Blair’s hand, Jim led them over. Jim sat in one chair while Blair sat down on the opposite one, facing him.

Jim didn’t say anything; he just let his eyes roam over the younger man. Blairscent filled his nose; the cinnamony essence that was Blair, coupled with the all-natural shampoo and body wash that he used combined to make a combination that could only ever be Blair.

The night was getting darker, especially now that the fireworks were over. People had turned off their lights earlier so that they could enjoy the display more. As a consequence, the city, at least their section of it, seemed darker than usual.

Jim knew that without Sentinel eyesight, Blair was probably all but blind in the evening shadows, so he moved forward slowly. The Sentinel could see when Blair realized he was getting closer. The anthropologist stilled, his eyes darting around the area where Jim would be.

Giving their clasped hands a tug, Ellison pulled Blair closer. The Guide went willingly to his Sentinel. Their lips met, tenderly, tentatively, at first, and then sealed together.

They stayed up late that night, in the dark, exploring their growing feelings where it was safe to let themselves go.

August

“When you're on the beach you steal the show.”

There was sand in his left shoe. It had worked its way into the tennis shoe and was irritating the bottom of William’s foot.

“Hang on a minute, Stevie.”

William’s youngest son stopped walking and extended an arm for his father to hang onto. The older man gratefully took hold of Steven’s arm to balance himself while he pulled off the shoe, shook out the sand and then slipped it back on.

“Thanks, son,” William said gratefully. It wasn’t just the helping hand that he was talking about.

****

Two months earlier.

William had called Steven and invited the younger Ellison, his wife, Ellie, and their daughter, Abby, to go on a cruise with him. After discussing it with Ellie, Steven had agreed. William had been thrilled that his son had acquiesced; the older man had slowly been trying to build a relationship with his children. The businessman knew that the estrangement between he, Jim and Steven was partly his fault. All right, mostly his fault. He wanted to fix things while there was still time.

Then came the tough part; talking with his eldest son, Jim. The detective had a lot more resentment in his heart from the lousy way that William had treated the two boys during their childhood. Steven seemed more amenable to reconciliation. William had a feeling that his being agreeable was due more to Ellie than anything.

Whatever the reason, William was damned glad to have at least one of his children willing to be near him. He didn’t want to be one of those old men, sitting all alone in his big, empty house, with no one to care whether he lived or died.

William still remembered the hardest call he’d ever had to make.

“Ellison,” a tired, but authoritative voice snapped into the phone.

“Jimmy? It’s me, dad.” William had swallowed hard, afraid that Jim would simply hang up the phone.

“Yeah, dad. How are you?” Jim had finally started talking again.

For a few minutes they had talked about banalities. The weather and the Jags’ chance at the championship were talked about before Jim cut through to the heart of the matter.

So, dad. What did you want?

“I, uh, I wanted to invite you on a cruise.”

“A…what?” Jim was obviously astonished.

A cruise. To Spain,” William added. “Stevie is coming, along with his family.” The older man took a deep, fortifying breath and continued. “I would like to include Blair in the invitation,” he said grudgingly. Like Ellie, William knew that his renewed association with Jim was due to one Blair Sandburg.

“I need to talk it over with Sandburg, see if he’s free to go then.” There was silence over the line again. “When is this cruise anyway?

William had been so astonished that Jim was even considering the vacation that he’d almost missed dinner. In the end, Blair had been free and Jim had accepted for the both of them. Which led to him and Steven walking on the beach.

****

The cruise was wonderful. Time on the ship was calm and filled with fun. Each time they arrived at a port, their little group scattered somewhat. Some of them went to the beach, sometimes they went sightseeing or shopping. On occasion, they went for a walk. No pressure, just some good, relaxing fun.

The two men resumed walking, their earlier easy going conversation forgotten for the moment. William had to admit that having Blair there as a buffer between Jimmy and himself had been a blessing.

The curly haired man was good at bringing up innocuous subjects when the conversation lagged, as it did quite a bit. The older man even found himself listening with interest as Blair expounded on things like primitive tribes in the Amazon rain forest or even, the mating habits of whales.

He still didn’t understand what Jim saw in the grad student, though. William assumed, from the way Jim acted around him, that his son was involved, or at least wanted to be involved, with Blair on a personal level. He just didn’t seem to be Jimmy’s type.

Blair was short and Jim liked his lovers tall. Blair was talkative and Jimmy wanted the strong and silent type. Sandburg was sensitive and wore his feelings on his sleeve for all the world to see. Jim was the type who would rather gnaw his own arm off rather than admit to being upset.

Again, William knew that he was mostly to blame for Jim’s stoic persona. The older man had refused to let anyone see how devastated he’d been when his wife left. In turn, he hadn’t let his sons grieve over the loss of their mother. Jimmy had turned that pain inward, freezing his heart, and Stevie had turned rebellious, striking out at everyone. Steven had met someone to heal him and it seemed that Jim had found someone who had thawed his heart.

Damnit! He still had sand in his shoe.

“Oh my!” Steven exclaimed breathlessly.

William glanced up at his son and then over to see what had put that look on his face. William saw Jim sitting under a canopy, but it was what was lying on a blanket a few feet beyond his oldest son that had William’s eyes popping out and his dick standing up to attention.

A woman was lying on her stomach on a beach towel. She was faced away from the two men, so all they could see was the back of her head and the gorgeous cinnamon colored, curly hair that was blowing in the slight breeze.

Her butt…her butt was a thing of beauty. It was perfect. Not flat, but not too round either, and it was encased in a royal blue satiny material that covered everything, but left nothing to the imagination.

That tantalizing butt curved down onto a brown back and up, unimpeded, to her hair. Yes, that’s right, she was going along with the Continental tradition and was bathing topless.

William could hear Steven gasping beside him. He hoped his own aroused breathing wasn’t quite as obvious, because he was older and had to have some dignity.

The father looked over at Jim and cocked an eyebrow. He looked from his oldest son to the vision sunbathing a few short feet away.

He must really be gay, William decided. If he can be that close to that beauty and still be reading his book, I’m surprised he was able to get married at all.

The flexing of a brown leg recaptured William’s attention from Jim’s sexual orientation. He, along with an almost drooling Steven, watched as the lady sat up, still with her back to them. Stevie gave an almost subvocal, whimpering sound. William could empathize. He wanted her to turn around, so that they could see if the front of her matched the promise that the back had given.

Almost as if she heard him, the exquisite body began to turn. William found himself craning his neck for a better look. She turned…and turned…and…the full, luscious breasts they’d been expecting…turned out to be fairly hairy and considerably flatter. Steven gasped and William’s eyes snapped up.

It was Blair!

By some instinct, William looked over at the canopy. Jim had looked up from his book and was smirking at his father and brother. Steven turned a bright red—and it wasn’t from the sun—and draped his own beach towel in front of his body. Jim glanced down and twitched an eyebrow up, acknowledging just why Steven was hiding that particular part of his anatomy.

Blair, thankfully, hadn’t noticed his audience. He’d slipped a pair of sunglasses on and was watching the waves come up on the shore.

Now that the shock had faded, William took another look at Blair. The boy filled the front of his swimming suit out just as nicely as he had the back. The promise had been fulfilled, just in a different way. Despite the differences from the women that Jim typically liked, the senior Ellison now saw what Jim was so attracted to.

“I’m going back to the ship,” William said, breaking the silence. Blair looked over and smiled upon hearing his voice. Ellison smiled back sincerely.

“I think I’ll sit with Jim…and Blair…for a while.”

William nodded. He was proud that he could appear unaffected by his little epiphany. He was really glad that he’d worn a loose shirt that day, one that was out over his shorts.

****

Blair stood up and absentmindedly wiped some sand off his swimsuit, and, oh by the way, his bottom. He stood still for a few moments, as if deciding something. With a grin, he pulled of his sunglasses and tossed them onto his blanket, before racing out into the surf.

Jim watched his partner’s antics from the corner of his eye, just like he had been the whole time that Blair was sunbathing. The anthropologist was too luscious to be ignored, especially laid out like he had been.

The Sentinel thought it was amusing that his father and brother had been all but drooling over Blair’s form earlier. From their reactions when Blair turned over, they had made an all too frequent mistake and assumed Blair was a woman; a mistake that people didn’t make when they were facing him.

Jim didn’t blame them, or the rest of the people on the beach, for watching, but they had better watch out, because Blair was his! Ellison knew that his little Guppy was his, even though they had, as yet, only exchanged a few kisses and made out on the sofa.

We’re getting there, though, Jim reassured himself silently.

****

Normally, the crowd on the beach began to thin out in the late afternoon, just before dinner. People wanted to get back to their hotels, or cruise ships, whatever, before the evening meal and they needed time to shower and primp before eating.

This day, however, not many people left, and the ones that did weren’t very happy about it. There seemed to be a hold on the men and women there, almost as if they were waiting for something…

Blair walked out of the ocean. His curls were saturated with water, making the brown color appear darker than normal. Some water remained trapped on his body, glistening in the suntan lotion he’d rubbed on earlier, as if it too was reluctant to leave. He walked tiredly towards where Jim and Steven were sitting, obviously tired from his long swim.

“Hey, Big Guy. Hi, Steven,” Blair said, bending over to pick up a towel that he used to dry himself off.

“Hi, Chief.”

“Uh huh,” was Steven’s incoherent reply.

Ellison smirked. A wet Blair was hell on anybody. His bathing suit clung tightly to his lower body, outlining every curve and bulge.

Acting on instinct, Jim gave a sharp look up and over to where the cruise ship was docked. Focusing his hearing on Blair’s heartbeat, to anchor himself, Jim extended his sense of sight.

****

William gasped and took a step back. He lowered the binoculars that he’d been using to watch Blair, like everybody else with a pulse was doing.

“He saw me,” William realized. The older man’s eyes unfocused as he thought for a moment. “Oh my god! From all those years ago…Jim did see who murdered Bud!”

Raising the glasses once more, William looked, not at Blair this time, but back to his son. Jim was looking right back at him, just like he had when William had been so startled. Jim nodded once and his father realized that the detective had heard him.

William sat down in the chair by the window with a thump.

September

“Light the candles at your sweet sixteen.”

Jim cautiously peeled the wrapping paper off. He knew from the smirk on H Brown’s face that the present contained within was going to be one of the gag gifts that most people had been giving him. A package of underwear fell out into his hand. Thong underwear. Three pairs, one red, one white and one, of course, in the requisite blue. Ellison rolled his eyes and gave the laughing Henri an exasperated look.

Except for an expensive bottle of brandy from Simon and a very nice chambray shirt from Rhonda, all of the other gifts that Jim had received had been either humorous or raunchy, or, as in Brown’s case, both.

“Gee, thanks,” Jim said in a mock bad humor.

He wasn’t really upset by the funny gifts; it was truly the thought that counted in this situation. The fact that his friends in Major Crimes had given him this impromptu gathering was enough for Jim. Since his mother left before Jim’s 10th birthday, he hadn’t had a party. His father worked too hard and thought parties, unless they were business related, were a waste of time, so during his childhood natal days Jim had been lucky if the day was acknowledged at all. Even then, it was usually Sally, his father’s housekeeper, who made a desert especially for the older boy.

Jim glanced over at the plate of cupcakes and smiled. The center cake had a lone candle in the middle of it, one that he’d already blown out. Ellison had a suspicion that Rhonda was responsible for that, too; it just seemed like something she would think of.

Everything was perfect, even with the odd gifts, except for one thing…no Blair. The anthropologist had called an hour earlier.

My car is acting wonky,” Blair had stated, first thing.

“Wonky, Chief?” Jim said with a grin. Only Blair could describe a mechanical problem as wonky.

Yeah, it started making this grinding, whining sort of noise, somewhere in the engine. I brought it to Raul’s immediately” Blair’s voice sounded so far away, much farther than just across town.

Good,” Jim said with a nod. There had been way too many times that Blair had ignored problems with his vehicles and been left stranded by the side of the road, usually late at night and in the worst parts of town.

“Thanks,” Blair said with a sigh. “I won’t be able to make it to the station today, though. Eddie is still trying to find the problem, so there’s no telling how long it will take.

Eddie was Raul’s top mechanic. If he was having trouble, then it would be a while. Jim tried to suppress his feelings of disappointment. It was his birthday and he wanted Blair here!

Jim shook his head as he remembered the whine, even an internal one. He sounded like a little boy who wanted his teddy bear.

Not too far off the mark, Jim decided. Blair’s certainly hairy enough for a teddy bear and the cuddling we do most nights now goes toward that description as well.

“Thanks, everybody,” Jim said to the room at large. There were grunts of acknowledgement, several hand waves and one pat on the back, from a still grinning Henri. Jim would have said more, but years of crap from his father and even more years in the repressive atmosphere of the military had taught him that less was better where feelings were involved. Even now, when he and Blair were slowly moving closer and he was friendly with his dad and Steven, it wasn’t easy to let go of those ingrained responses.

“Happy birthday, Jim.” Rhonda gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.

“Thanks, Rhonda.” With her, he was able to be more sincere, still not gushy, but with women he was able to unbend a little. Carolyn never understood that, although she called him repressed, he was more open with her than he ever had been before. The only other person since then that had gotten that close was Blair and the closeness of their relationship blew the one he had with his wife totally out of the water.

“Alright, back to work people,” Simon said loudly. Not his usual bellow, but certainly enough so that everyone in the room heard him. “Happy birthday, Jim.”

“Thank you, sir.” Jim nodded at the captain.

Ellison neatly stacked all of the presents into one bag and swept all of the debris, i.e., wrapping paper and ribbons, into the trashcan beside his desk. When everything was tidy once more, Jim glanced hopefully towards the elevator door. In his mind, Ellison knew that Blair wasn’t going to make it, but his heart, and other regions, were more hopeful.

****

Jim parked beside Blair’s Corvair, glad to see the older car sitting in its usual place, because that meant that the mechanical problem wasn’t as bad as Blair had feared. That was certainly good, because the cash strapped grad student didn’t have the funds necessary to do very much repairing to the car and he absolutely refused to let Jim help him out, finance wise.

Leaning back into the door of his truck, Jim reached to the other side of the bucket seat to retrieve his sack of presents. He started to walk across the parking lot and into the building; the sound of someone’s extremely loud music blasted Jim the second he stepped up on the curb.

Ellison faltered, but only for a moment; Blair had taught him better than to be caught unaware. Just as Jim’s hearing was used to the full out assault of a screaming guitar solo, which had to be either Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin, the Sentinel picked up a segment of an ongoing conversation.

…and I told you, I’m not going to cook for a dozen of your damned clients! Not with only one day’s notice!”

“It’s for my job! You know, the one that pays the mortgage.”

You were the one that wanted me to quit my job and stay home with the kids!”

“I know that and I’m happy to have you here more, but I just need a little help…”

Jim hastily dialed down his sense of hearing even further. Joanna and Ned Ford, from 205, argued all of the time, but they were really a very happily married couple, especially now that Ned stayed at home with their two kids full time.

Ellison ignored the rest of today’s installment of the Ford Theater, although he did agree with Ned; cooking for a dozen people on such little notice was a bit much for Joanna to ask of him.

Hoping to forget the other family’s problems, Jim stopped off in the lobby to look at their mailbox, just in case Blair had forgotten to check it when he came home earlier. Two bills and a handful of junk mail were his reward. That and…

A strong odor assaulted his sensitive nose and Ellison followed it back to the source; a small trash bag with what smelled like a dirty diaper inside. The Sentinel curled up his nose and turned his dial down. The fragrant bundle was in a little plastic sack all by itself, so Jim surmised that it had been dropped accidentally.

Backing away as quickly as he could and still have his dignity intact, Jim walked the rest of the way across the lobby. He gave the closed elevator doors, and the Out of Order sign, the stink eye and began to climb up the stairs. He didn’t mind all that much, because after a day of mostly paperwork, Ellison knew that he could use the exercise.

Stopping in from of Apt. 307, Jim shifted his bag of presents to his left hand and dug out his keys to the door. Pushing open the door, Ellison walked in…

SURPRISE!!!”

Jim gasped and took an instinctive step backwards. His mouth fell open and blue eyes rounded as he took in the sights.

People filled the room. Most were from the station, but a few extras were there too. Some people from the university, whom he knew via Blair, were clapping and smiling. Even his dad and Steven were over by the French doors.

And, of course, in the middle of them all, stood Blair. The younger man had a delighted look on his grinning face and his eyes were dancing.

“Happy Birthday, Jim,” Blair told him as he reached out to pat Jim’s arm.

“Chief! How did you manage this?”

Balloons and streamers in all different colors festooned the walls. Food, enough to satisfy any preference, covered the table and kitchen counters. The cake…well, the cake was huge! It had its own little card table and the confection covered the whole of it. The top of the cake was decorated to look like a jungle, complete with trees and a little soldier who was presumably Jim.

“It took some planning,” Blair started to explain. He was interrupted by Terry, who lived at the other end of the 3rd floor.

“I’ll be back in a minute, dudes. I’m just going to turn my music off.”

Jim’s eyebrows shot up. He watched Terry hurry out the door and then turned back to Blair. Sandburg just grinned.

“I had to make sure you wouldn’t hear us up here.”

Jim nodded. That made sense—no pun intended. It would be damned hard to surprise a Sentinel.

“That reminds me,” Sharon, from the 1st floor, said. “I’ll be right back.”

Ellison arched an eyebrow and waited. Blair didn’t disappoint him.

“She’s getting something from downstairs,” Sandburg explained.

“The diaper close to the mailboxes?”

“Yep.” Blair grinned. “That kept you from smelling all this,” he waved a hand at the room in general.

Jim slung an arm around his Guide and pulled him close. “You are one smart G…guppy.”

Blair smiled and snuggled into his side; this was as close as they could get in such a public situation. Both men knew that Jim really wanted to say Guide, but that would raise all kinds of hairy questions.

Blair wrapped his arm around Jim's lower back. He managed it so that his elbow settled naturally in the dip just before Jim's butt. "I had to find some way to surprise you," Blair admitted with a smirk.

"You did that, Chief," Jim acknowledged, looking around the room.

"Cool."

*****

Blair shut the door behind Simon and Joel gratefully. The anthropologist slumped against the door in relief. The party, while fun to plan, had gone on forever. It was now 2 o'clock in the morning and Blair was exhausted.

It was worth it to see the look on Jim's face, though, Blair decided.

"Are you okay?" Jim's quiet voice came from the direction of the couch.

"Yeah, just tired. How about you?" Blair asked, turning to face the Sentinel.

"Great, Chief. This is the best birthday I've ever had."

Blair smiled at the compliment, although it made him sad to think what little Jimmy had missed out on as a child. "I'm glad."

Jim nodded and looked around at all the loot he'd acquired; it literally surrounded him on the couch and left no room for anyone else to sit there. No gag gifts here. No, instead there were more presents, even from the guys in the bullpen, and ones that he really liked. There were several espionage books that he'd been meaning to read from Rafe. Henri had given him a very nice sweater in muted swirls of amber and rust. Personally, Jim thought that one would look better on Blair, what with his hair and everything, but he still liked it.

The biggest surprise of all had come from his dad. A check for $100,000 had been casually and surreptitiously handed to him, tucked inside a birthday card. Jim had been stunned, and about to refuse the largesse, when William had pointed out that it was to make up for a few of the holidays they'd missed over the years. Jim really didn't think he would have received presents worth that much, but he gave in gracefully. Tomorrow, the money would be deposited into several CDs to provide for Jim's eventual retirement. Or, if tragedy ever struck, it would make sure that Blair was taken care of, since Sandburg was Jim's main beneficiary in his will; not that Blair knew that or would want the money if it came right down to it. Of course, that was one of the main reasons he'd never told the grad student about the bequest.

Even with the amount of William's gift, it was Blair's present that was the best of them all. In addition to the party, which Jim had been so thrilled with, Blair had hand carved a statue. Ellison had no idea that his almost lover was an artist, but he'd been pleasantly surprised. The statue was of panther. The animal was crouched down on its forearms, back legs gathered up, as if it was just about to pounce. The detail work was astounding. Every whisker was carved in and the eyes, even though they were the same color as the dark wood, seemed to look right into your soul.

They'd all been astounded by the quality of the workmanship. Rafe had commented that Blair ought to do commissions. Blair had laughed and said he didn't have time for that kind of thing, but Jim silently agreed with Rafe; the world was missing out on a great artist.

****

Ellison came back to himself when he realized that Blair had moved away and was straightening up. "Why don't you leave that until morning, Chief?"

Blair, who had been moving one of the chairs back into position, stopped and looked at the Sentinel in astonishment. "Say what?" he asked in astonishment.

Jim ducked his head and was amazed to feel the heat of a blush on his face. He knew how fastidious he was about the house, but today was special.

"It can wait." Not that there was much to do anyway. The guys from the station had stayed long enough to help clean up. All that was left was moving the furniture back into its correct position; that and rearranging the dishes so that they were in their proper places.

“Are you sure…” Blair began to ask, Jim interrupted him in a most satisfying manner.

Both Sentinel and Guide were breathing hard by the time their lips separated long enough for them to draw in a decent breath. Blair continued to kiss across Jim’s neck, down the edge of his jaw and onto his neck, where the anthropologist found a nice little spot to explore.

Ellison, meanwhile, not to be outdone by his younger partner, was busy investigating how well Blair’s butt fit in his hands. It was a very nice arrangement, if he did say so himself.

“Happy birthday, Jim,” Blair whispered into his skin.

“It couldn’t get any happier, Chief,” Jim answered.

They made their way over to the couch and continued to pet one another until they fell asleep. The stiff necks and sore backs were worth it the next day.

October

“Romeo and Juliet on Halloween.”

“Come on, Jim, open the door.” Blair waited a few seconds and then knocked on the bathroom door again. “It wasn’t my fault, man.”

The door was yanked open so suddenly that the younger man almost fell into Jim’s arms. For once, the Sentinel didn’t appreciate the closeness. He grabbed a handful of Blair’s t-shirt and helped straighten the anthropologist up and then he marched past him into the living room.

Sandburg sighed and straightened his shirt. This had been going on for the last hour; enough was enough.

“Jim, be realistic.” Ellison sat down on the couch and glared at him. “We only found out about the party from your dad this morning. Halloween morning!” he emphasized sharply, more than a little put out himself. “The pickings at the costume shop were very slim indeed, especially in the ones for bigger guys. Taller guys,” Blair amended, seeing the offended look on the Sentinel’s face. “You either got this,” he picked up a plastic sack and waved it at Ellison, “or you go as Barney.”

Ellison winced, as did Blair. The image of Jim as a six foot tall purple dinosaur was just too horrible to contemplate.

“But, Chief,” Jim whined. “There are tights in there.”

Blair rolled his eyes and tilted his head at the older man. “I know that, I got them for you,” he reminded Jim. He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “It’s not like I had a lot of choice and anyway, I’m not exactly going to wear my favorite costume either.”

“Hmph.” Jim crossed his arms and looked over at Blair speculatively. “What are you going as, anyway?”

“It’s a surprise,” Blair declared. “And no, you couldn’t get my outfit on.”

The Sentinel picked up the remote and turned the television on. He chose to ignore Blair and instead began to channel surf. Blair narrowed his eyes at the man he loved, but who exasperated the hell out of him sometimes.

The grad student stomped over and yanked the remote out of a stunned Jim’s hand. He turned the TV off, slammed the remote onto the top of the set and then turned his glare onto the detective.

“This is not my fault, man, so stop treating me like the enemy.” Blair tossed the sack onto Jim’s lap and jammed his fisted hands onto his hips. “So, are you going to get ready, or what? Cause if we aren’t going, then I need to get some candy for the trick or treaters.” When Jim didn’t answer, Blair threw his hands up in the air and started for the front door. “Fine by me. Don’t forget to call your dad and let him know you won’t be at the country club,” Blair reminded tersely as he grabbed his keys out of the basket by the door.

“Chief, wait,” Jim called out, catching Blair as he was reaching out to open the door.

Blair stopped, but he didn't turn around to face Jim. Ellison placed a hand on the younger man's shoulder and frowned at how tense Blair was.

"I'm sorry, Chief. You're right. None of this is your fault. Forgive me?"

At that, Blair did turn. He tossed the keys back into the basket and smiled up at the detective. It wasn’t very often that Jim used the F word. "Of course, Big Guy."

"I just hate the idea of being a laughingstock," Jim admitted. He gently laid his hand on Blair's chest.

"Man, you in form fitting leggings...yum! Trust me, no woman will be laughing and the men will be green with envy." Blair watched in delight as the red of a blush crept up Jim's face. "Besides which, the long tunic that goes with the costume will cover the essential bits."

"Essential bits, huh." Jim leaned closer, rubbing his bits against Blair's provocatively.

"Big bits," Blair amended with a grin.

"Okay, you win."

"Cool. We'd better get ready then, the party starts in less than two hours."

Ellison's eyebrows shot up. "How long do you think it'll take me to get dressed?"

Blair grinned. He grabbed the back of Jim's head to pull him down into kissing range. "I never said it would take you long." Blair gave the Sentinel a quick peck to the lips. "Wait until you see what I had to pick out," the anthropologist warned him, just before he disappeared into his bedroom.

****

Jim stood at the top of the stairs and wriggled. The tights fit his legs like a second skin and encased his ass and cock in a very distracting way. The bigger man’s balls were pushed tight up into his groin and the feeling was halfway between annoying as hell and erotic as all get out.

Ellison walked down the stairs, his eyes searching the living room and kitchen for his erstwhile Guide, but Blair was nowhere to be found. Extending his hearing, just a bit, because he didn’t want to risk a zone, the Sentinel discovered that Sandburg was in the bathroom.

Jim had no idea what Blair’s costume was, because the grad student had kept it safely tucked away in a bag. If Ellison had his way, they would have stayed home, watched scary movies and eaten whatever candy the little kids didn’t scoop up; just like they had the year before. But no, his dad had to throw a monkey wrench in at the last minute.

Apparently, his dad’s country club was having a blowout Halloween party again this year. For as long as Jim could remember, his mother and father, and then his dad, after his mom left, had gone to the yearly party. He could well remember the fancy costumes that he’d spied from his perch at the top of the stairs.

Mom wore velvets and laces. Dad had swords and quivers filled with arrows. Both of them always looked so regal, Jim couldn’t imagine going with them.

This year, Jim had been invited, along with Blair. The invitation had come only that morning, due to some mix up at the post office. Apparently a J. Ellis, living on the other side of town, had accidentally gotten the invitation two weeks ago. The man had been on vacation and so the mistake hadn’t been found until day before yesterday. Hence, Blair’s mad dash to the costume shop.

Jim could hear muttering coming from behind the closed bathroom door and grinned at some of the more colorful expletives coming from Blair’s mouth. The ex-Ranger was glad to know that he wasn’t the only one who was having trouble getting dressed. And with Blair’s hair…

The detective sat down on the couch, prepared to wait for his almost lover, for however long it took. He meant that in more ways than one. Jim and Blair had been flirting with one another since the first day they met, so when they tentatively began a relationship a few months ago, both men agreed to take it slow. Yes, there had been kissing. Oh yes, there had been touching and groping, but nothing else. Jim was afraid of messing up their friendship if their affair didn’t work out and he had a feeling that was what was holding Blair back too.

So, here they were, several months after their first kiss and they hadn’t gone past 2nd base. Jim idly wondered if a person could actually die of blue balls.

Probably not, he decided. I’ll just wish I would. Ellison smiled after a moment. Nah. If I were dead I wouldn’t get to play with Blair’s hair.

The thought of those silky strands wrapping themselves around his fingers gave Jim a happy moment. Unfortunately, that only increased the tautness of his tights.

At least my tunic will cover up most of my arousal, he thought. Just then, the bathroom door opened and Blair appeared.

The younger man had on a full length, dark green velvet dress, with wide, bell sleeves. The ends of the sleeves were long enough that when Blair had his hands at his side the tapered ends would drag the ground. The bodice of the dress laced up and was tight enough that Jim wondered if Blair had a corset on underneath to cinch him in that way.

Blair’s hair…wasn’t really his hair. It was a wig that trailed long curls down the center of his back. But the color and texture were close enough to Blair’s own hair to be mistaken for the real thing.

“Good grief!” Jim exclaimed. The older man was glad that he was sitting down, because the sight of Blair done up in velvet had his mind reeling. “You’re…”

“Juliet,” Blair supplied for him finally. “And you’re Romeo.” Blair waved a hand between Jim’s attire and his own. “What do you think?” the younger man asked nervously.

Truthfully, Jim didn’t know what to think. There was no doubt that Blair was hot like that, but he’d never been interested in seeing someone in drag before, so the attraction disturbed him too. Jim looked up into Blair’s worried blue eyes and decided he didn’t give a flip about what he normally liked.

“Chief, I think I’d better stick close to you tonight.”

Blair smiled at the open appreciation in Jim’s eyes. Ellison moved closer. There was no mistaking Blair for a woman, no matter how closely he shaved his face, and yes, part of his chest, as well. The firm jaw and prominent Adam’s apple were dead giveaways. But instead of taking away from the feminine charm, the bits of male that still shone through only added to the appeal.

“Very close,” he added.

Sandburg glanced down, almost shyly, and then glanced up at Jim, looking through his eyelashes. “Cool.”

“I also think that we had better go or we won’t get to the party at all.”

Blair smiled happily. “Let’s go. The sooner we go, the sooner we can leave.”

Jim nodded his agreement. As the Sentinel and Guide walked down the hall to the elevator, Jim made sure to stay a couple of steps behind Blair. That way he was able to watch the gentle sway of those velvet covered hips.

I wonder what he’s wearing underneath that dress?

Ellison almost groaned out loud over his musings. It was going to be a long night.

November

“I'll give thanks that you belong to me.”

Pumpkin pie with whipped topping; the real stuff, whipped by hand, not something out of a can with preservatives up the ying yang. A turkey, which was big enough to feed a small army, or the Ellison family and their extended friends. Cranberry sauce, again homemade instead of canned, because the Sentinel in their midst could taste the metal of the cans in the food.

There was certainly a lot more. Food covered every available flat surface in the lower part of the loft, even the living room table, which boasted several snack plates for those that got the munchies before the main event.

Blair had been cooking for the last two days. Jim’s dad and brother had agreed to come to the loft for their first family oriented meal since before Jim left home to join the army almost twenty years ago and Blair wanted it to be perfect.

Jim, Master of my Domain, Ellison had supervised the cooking of the turkey. It wasn’t as if he thought Blair couldn’t cook the big bird, but the Sentinel used his sense of smell to know the exact moment when it was finished cooking, before the meat could begin to dry out.

****

Blair swore that he could hear the table groan. I wonder if Jim could really hear it? he thought to himself. The younger man grinned at the whimsy of that thought. He slumped down on his bed, needing to rest a few minutes.

The futon, never the biggest bed in the world anyway, was covered with coats, jackets and purses. Blair smiled to himself again when he remembered a joke he heard once. It was said that the reason people didn't have sex during the holidays was because the bed was always covered with coats.*

Or they've got a Sentinel who is so repressed that he's afraid to actually make a move, Blair grumbled internally. Not that I'm any better, he admitted.

It was true. Blair was afraid to make a push for that final commitment, just in case it didn't work out. Neither Jim nor Blair had the greatest history, relationship wise. They were very good friends, however, and the grad student was afraid to screw that up. Of course, they couldn't stay like they were indefinitely, stuck in sexual limbo forever.

Simon's laughter coming from the main room interrupted Blair's internal debate. He sat up and twisted his neck from side to side, feeling the tension leave his body. He and Jim would work things out. Either they would finish the dance that they'd been doing for months, or things would go back to how they'd been previously. Either way, everything would work out alright; it had to, because Jim needed Blair and Blair certainly needed his Sentinel.

****

Blair saw Jim standing by the stove with his father, brother and Simon; all four men were laughing. It was good to see Jim so happy and especially nice to see him so at ease with his family. Every time Jim saw Stephen or William, they seemed to grow a little closer. Not having any family other than his mother, Blair was thrilled that Jim was letting the two men back in his heart. Glad, and if he had to admit it, a little envious.

Tamping down on that uncharitable feeling, Blair hurried into the kitchen to check on the stuffing he had placed in the oven earlier, because it only needed a little while to heat up. Naturally, Blair knew that Jim would smell if any of the food started to overcook and would have taken it out of the oven before it could burn, but still...

"How's it going, Hairboy?" Henri asked, clapping Blair on the back.

"Going great, H. And you?" Blair asked as he pulled the large pan of dressing onto the stovetop and slid the cookie sheet of rolls into the oven.

"Not bad. Not bad at all." The detective gave one of his patented shit eating grins as he glanced into the living room. Blair followed his gaze and gave an appreciative once over to Henri's lovely date. The young woman was tall, with super long legs, long straight, black hair and vivid green, almond shaped eyes. It was no surprise that Tara was a model.

"Uh huh. I can't imagine why," Blair teased his friend.

"Yeah, I'm one lucky guy," the dark skinned detective admitted with a smirk, his eyes still riveted to his date.

"Is it getting serious?" Blair asked quietly.

"Yes, it is." Henri patted the pocket of his wildly patterned shirt. Blair could just make out the outline of a box.

"Cool."

Jim looked over from across the room and winked at Blair. It still gave the anthropologist a thrill to know how closely Jim paid attention to Blair and his surroundings. With so much going on in the room and the attending sounds, Ellison would surely have dialed his senses down, but he still heard what Blair and H had said, so he'd kept himself attuned to Blair anyway.

Blair turned back to the sink quickly, in order to hide the tears that threatened. The younger man wasn't usually someone who was prone to displays of emotion, but he wasn't used to people obviously caring for him that much. His mother, Naomi, loved Blair, he knew that, but she also detached with love any time she needed to get away. When Jim needed to get away, he took Blair with him.

****

William's blue eyes followed his son's gaze back to the kitchen. He saw Blair blush and looked quickly back to his son, but he didn't see whatever Jim had obviously done to cause that reaction in the grad student. The elder Ellison looked back and saw that Blair had turned away and was hunched over the kitchen sink. He had seen that pose before and rightly realized that Blair was feeling overwhelmed. Giving his son a speculative look, William wondered if Jim realized what was going through Blair's mind.

"Excuse me a minute, dad, Stephen." Jim casually, but determinedly headed for the kitchen.

Good! William declared to himself. Jim's learning to let people in and to reach out himself. I'm glad I didn't kill all of those instincts so many years ago.

"Are you okay, dad?" Stephen asked, placing a concerned hand on his father's shoulder.

The gray haired man glanced over and saw that his eldest son was in the other room, quietly talking to Blair and whatever he was saying made the younger man laugh. William slung an arm around his younger son and smiled at the startled look on Stephen's face.

"I'm just great, Stevie."

****

Blair sat down on the floor by the balcony doors, crossing his legs, Indian style. He placed his glass of iced tea on the floor beside him and balanced his plate on one knee. There wasn't nearly enough room around the table for all of their guests to sit down, so they'd opted to let people sit wherever they could find a spot or wander around the room, like a few people were doing. Most of the younger generation opted to sit on the floor like Blair. Others, like Jim's dad, Joel, Simon and, of course, Amelia, Simon's date, decided to sit at the table they'd borrowed from Sharon, on the 1st floor.

Jim walked around the room, fussing over people, making sure that everybody had all of the food they wanted and something to drink. Jim's fastidious nature at work, Blair thought to himself. He just hoped that the mess that so many people were making wasn't driving Jim too crazy.

"Ah." Ellison sat down beside Blair with a contented sigh.

"Looks like the dinner is a success," Blair pronounced. Jim looked around the room at all of the happy people eating and enjoying one another's company.

"It sure is, Chief." Jim clanked his glass against Blair's in a toast. "Here's to giving thanks."

"Amen to that, Big Guy."

This year was definitely one of the best that Blair had ever had. He and Jim were getting closer every day. Blair was accepted at the station and life at the university was going along swimmingly. And, to top it all off, Jim's family seemed to like him. Blair glanced over and saw Jim's dad giving them both a paternal look.

Just like family, Blair thought with awe. Family.

*I think that it might have been a joke of Jeff Foxworthy's, but I'm not sure.

December

“You're the present 'neath my Christmas tree.”

“Dashing through the snow…”

Blair’s voice echoed through the building, coming in loud and clear to the Sentinel.

…in a one-horse open sleigh.”

No big surprise there. Jim was always attuned to his Guide. He could hear Blair’s whisper across a crowded campus, let alone in a quiet, holiday empty building.

Through the fields we go…

The majority of their fellow homeowners were either on vacation or still at work, since it was only two in the afternoon. The only reason that Blair was home at this time of day was because classes had ended for the semester a few days previously.

Laughing all the way…

Simon had let Jim come home early to prepare for the get together that was going to take place the following evening. Unlike Thanksgiving, Christmas was going to be a small, family affair. Jim’s dad, Sally, Stephen and his wife, Ellie and their little girl, Abby, were all that were going to gather at the loft to celebrate the festive season.

Banks had lucked out this year; he had his son, Daryl, for Christmas. The two of them were going to spend the holidays in Oregon with Simon’s elderly parents.

“Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.”

Jim laughed along with Blair in time to the music. Ellison was glad that Blair was so happy. He hadn’t been earlier in the week, when Naomi had called and informed her son that she was going to an ashram in India, instead of coming to Cascade, like they’d planned.

Blair had put on a brave face, and a brave voice, and had acted thrilled for his mother. He’d been down in the dumps for days afterwards, though. Jim knew that since he was getting along so well with his family, Blair had hoped for a real family Christmas with all of their family there.

It sounds like he’s over the disappointment, Jim thought as he opened the door to the loft.

“Jim! Welcome home!” Blair enthused, like it had been years since he’d seen the detective, instead of a few hours.

"Thanks, Chief."

Jim walked into the loft and felt a warm feeling in his chest. He glanced around the room, at its decorations. Artificial green garlands and clear Christmas lights graced the guard wire that was Jim's headboard. They trailed over the side, all the way down to the first floor. A very large Christmas tree, again artificial, so it wouldn’t mess with Jim’s senses, was over to the left of the balcony doors, and close to, but not in front of, the little stove that they used on chilly nights. The tree was a confection of lights, ornaments, both antique and those that the two men had bought this year, strands of popcorn and the glitter of silver icicles.

The air smelled of cinnamon and sugar. Jim knew that Blair had planned on doing some baking this afternoon, so he surmised that cookies were the cause of that wonderful smell. A glance into the kitchen saw several paper plates which were already covered with plastic wrap, ready to be delivered to those who aren’t as lucky as we are, Jim.

The Sentinel figured that anyone who didn’t have a Blair in their lives qualified. He hadn’t told Blair that, knowing how much of a mush ball that made him sound like.

“Smells good, Chief. Can I have some?” He looked over at a rack where more cookies were cooling.

“Only two, man.” Blair held up two fingers and waggled them back and forth as if to reiterate his limitations. “The rest are for later.”

Jim sighed, but it was for affect only. He knew that Blair would relent and let him have more and Blair knew that he knew, but this was a little game that they played.

Ellison munched on his cookies, one molasses and the other oatmeal, as he watched Blair tidying up the room. Even to Sentinel eyes there wasn’t much out of place, but the fact that Blair was going through the effort made Jim’s heart sing.

****

Later that evening

William relaxed on the sofa, his granddaughter on one knee while the rest of the family sat around the room in various states of gastronomic bliss. Stephen and Ellie were on the other couch, almost asleep; after all, they had been dealing with a hyped up little girl who just couldn’t wait for Christmas! Their exhausted state was not really that big of a surprise.

Sally, taking advantage of her day off, was relaxing in one of the chairs. The oriental woman was happily sipping a glass of eggnog, provided by Jim, and nibbling on an oatmeal cookie, courtesy of Blair.

Jim and Blair were resting on the other couch. The two men were almost draped across one another; Blair’s right leg was up and over Jim’s left knee and his curly head was lying on the detective’s shoulder. Jim’s left hand was curled around Blair’s right knee. They couldn’t look any more intimate, not and still have clothes on.

William decided that some more decisive, fatherly intervention was needed.

****

“Bye, Bwair,” Abby said with a wave. The five year old had recently lost both of her front teeth and the ensuing lisp was absolutely adorable.

“Goodbye, sweetheart.” Blair bent over and hugged the little girl. He stood up and waved at Stephen and Ellie. “Drive carefully.”

Stephen had hold of Sally’s elbow with one hand and his wife’s with the other. Abby, in turn, was clutching her mother’s hand. It was like a family daisy chain, especially since Sally had been more like a mother to Jim and Stephen than their own, runaway matriarch had been.

“Goodnight, William.” Blair smiled at the older man. He gave Jim a quick, knowing glance and then decided to leave the two men alone.

Jim watched his roommate as Blair crossed the room and went into the bathroom. The soft green patterned sweater, which had been an early Christmas present from Jim, hugged the contours of Blair’s chest beautifully. The light gray slacks that he had on weren’t overly tight, but they were definitely form-fitting.

Jim felt himself sliding into a zone as he concentrated on the flex and sway of Blair’s hips…

****

“James Joseph Ellison!”

William’s strident tones startled the Sentinel and had him jumping about a foot in the air, snapping him out of his eye fantasy and back into reality faster than any cold shower possibly could. Jim turned to look at his father. The ex-Ranger knew that his face was a flaming red in embarrassment from being caught ogling his roommate.

“Yeah, dad?” Jim stared his father straight in the eye; he wasn’t embarrassed about looking at Blair, just getting caught.

“Are you ever going to tell that boy you love him?”

Jim’s mouth fell open in shock. William snorted and shook his head.

“I haven’t always been an old man,” the somewhat older Ellison stated.

Jim watched his father walk out of the loft with a bemused expression on his handsome face. Blair, who was peeking out of the bathroom door, had heard everything and had a thoughtful look on his face.

****

Jim opened his eyes and frowned at the dark room. He looked over at the clock on his bedside table and read the time. 5:42. It was too early to even be light outside. It was very quiet in the loft, so what had woken him up?

The Sentinel extended his hearing. The only thing that could wake him up so suddenly, without telling his mind to prepare for an attack, was Blair. Not that Blair was a thing, but he was Jim's Guide; a Guide who wasn't in his bedroom, like Ellison would have expected, but in the living room instead.

What in the world?

Slipping on a pair of loose sweatpants, Jim walked down the stairs from his bedroom to the lower level. He kept his senses on alert, just in case there was a problem. It was because he had his eyesight dialed up that he was able to see Blair, even though the lights were off everywhere in the loft, except the lights on the Christmas tree; which was fortuitous, since that's where Blair was.

The dark haired man was lying slightly underneath the Christmas tree wearing a red satin bow around his neck and nothing else. Correction, he also had a green bow tied around his semi-erect cock.

Jim stopped, one foot on the final step and the other on the floor, his mind overwhelmed by what his eyes were telling him. Ellison’s eyes met Blair’s wide, blue, hopeful, scared, worried eyes and everything clicked. They didn’t need to dance around one another any more, because the time was finally right.

The Sentinel crossed the room and slid to his knees in front of the altar of Blair’s body. The Guide just watched him; he’d made the move finally, it was up to Jim whether or not to follow up.

“Mine,” Jim whispered as he leaned forward and captured Blair’s mouth in a kiss. Blair smiled, his eyes sparkling in agreement as Sentinel and Guide consummated their love.

The End

Back to Story Index

Acknowledgments: Thank you to Bobbie for the beta and to Patt for the cover art. You can find the special Calendar Guide with a picture for every month here.

The song, Calendar Guide (with minor revisions to the original)

Borrowed from Neil Sedaka, no money was made at all.

I love, I love my calendar Guide
Yeah, sweet calendar Guide
I love, I love, I love my calendar Guide
Each and every day of the year.

(January) you start the year off fine
(February)you're my little valentine
(March)I'm gonna march you down the aisle
(April) You're the Easter Bunny when you smile

Yeah, yeah, my heart's in a whirl
I love, I love my little calendar Guide
Every day (every day), every day (every day) of the year
(Every day of the year)

(May) Maybe if I ask your dad and mom
(June)They'll let me take to you to the Junior prom
(July) like a firecracker all aglow
(August) When you're on the beach you steal the show

Yeah, yeah, my heart's in a whirl
I love, I love, I love my little calendar Guide
Every day (every day), every day (every day) of the year
(every day of the year)

(September)Light the candles ay your sweet sixteen
(October) Romeo and Juliet on Halloween
(November)I'll give thanks that you belong to me
(December)You're the present 'neath my Christmas tree

Yeah, yeah, my heart's in a whirl
I love, I love , I love my little calendar Guide
Every day (every day), every day (every day) of the year).