Earth Day Comes Once a Year by Laurie

Earth Day Comes Once a Year - Laurie

April 22, 1996

Jim hit the message button and listened while Sandburg's voice echoed in the loft. God, he was tired. His hearing was screwy again after last night's stake out. The Russian Mafia was trying to muscle into the arms business in Cascade, and the Red Mob's leader was a goddamn night owl. Why the hell couldn't Yuri Solonik conduct his illegal activities during the day, say in an office building, instead of meeting down at the docks at 2:00am? Straining to hear the Russians plot over the sound of the waves had brought on a headache, besides making ordinary sounds incredibly loud. He wanted to sleep, but he just knew every little noise was going to crash through his subconscious and startle him awake.

Sandburg had helped him before, especially during the Switchman case; maybe he'd call the kid and see if he could fix the problem.

His very own sentinel expert would be in his office till noon, then he was in charge of some booth for passing out information on recycling for Rainier's Earth Day celebration.

Earth Day. Sandburg's little hippie heart must be all aglow.

Sandburg had ended his call by inviting Jim to come over for the celebration, but Jim couldn't see himself hanging out with him, listening to folk singers, and attending lectures about pollution and solar energy.

But... maybe the kid could ditch his office hours and come over for a while and do his voodoo over Jim, and Jim could go to sleep without his brain being pummeled into mush.

He hit speed dial and felt himself unwinding a bit when Sandburg's cheerful voice again echoed in the room. The guy was probably fifty percent bullshitting him about knowing how to help Jim control his senses, but his fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants style usually worked anyway.

"Hey, Sandburg... Uh, Happy Earth Day to you, too. Look, can you come over this morning? My hearing is screwy again..."

* * * * * *

April 22, 1997

Jim was relaxing on the couch, listening to the rain pelt the roof and windows, when Sandburg blew into the loft, his clothes dripping and shoes squelching, strewing chaos by tossing his backpack and various packages haphazardly around the living room and the kitchen.

"Sandburg!"

"Yay, yay, I know. I'll get the water mopped up in a minute." Sandburg unzipped his wet jacket and went back to the coat rack to hang it up. He toed off his sneakers, looking at them ruefully before dropping them next to the coat rack.

Jim watched from the couch, fascinated to watch his roommate do his own version of a strip tease as he removed his heavy flannel shirt and then pulled his t-shirt over his head before he stepped into the bathroom. Jim heard Sandburg depositing the soggy fabric into the hamper and the clicky sound of his jeans zipper opening. With some effort, he made himself stop listening to Sandburg's efforts to get naked.

A few moments later Blair reappeared, and he had a towel snugged around his hips. And he was using one of Jim's to vigorously blot his bedraggled curls.

"Sandburg..."

"C'mon, Jim, have a heart. I totally needed to use your towel, too."

He picked up his backpack from the floor and deposited it on the coffee table, and then plopped down next to Jim. Jim could feel Blair's body heat radiating from his naked skin. He supposed it was good that Sandburg wasn't hypothermic from being out in the cold spring rain, but if he had been, if he had stumbled into the room needing Jim to bundle him naked into bed, and Jim had to strip himself down and join him, in order to share his body heat...

His very healthy, and in absolutely no need of any kind of first aid, friend elbowed him in the ribs as he rummaged in his back pack and brought out a handful of brochures, thus ending that pleasant daydream. He dropped them in Jim's lap.

"Sandburg?"

"You should read up on this stuff while I get dressed. It's all about non-toxic cleansers to use for housecleaning. And since you're the one around here who is really, really into cleaning, I brought the information home for you. Gosh, Jim. I wish you had gone with me today."

Jim shook his head. "Sandburg."

"Earth Day, Jim. It's not just for hippies or sons of hippies. There's a lot of really interesting speakers on some pretty controversial subjects - global warming, for instance; now, there's a hot topic."

Sandburg stood up then, the towel sliding precariously downward a few crucial inches. He moved away towards his room under the stairs, his separate but hardly equal bedroom.

"Sandburg?"

Blair turned around and looked quizzically at him.

"Next year, okay? Next year I'll go with you to Earth Day."

* * * * * * *

April 22, 1998

"Hey... hey, Jim! Let's sign up to do bird rescue duty in case there's another oil spill. The Cascade Bird Rescue Center's booth is that way." Blair gave a vague wave indicating the far side of the commons area at Rainier.

Cleaning oil-covered birds that would probably die without help... Sure. Why not? Pushing up his sense of sight and touch would really help him to save their lives.

"All right, Chief; sounds fine to me. I didn't realize so many groups would be participating today; the place is packed."

"Yeah, Earth Day has always been a real happening, man. Did you know this is where I met my friend Janet; you remember I told you we chained ourselves to trees to stop the loggers from cutting them down?"

He recalled her all right. He carefully eyed Sandburg, but recalling Janet's death wasn't dimming his smile right now. Jim pulled him closer towards him without a word, draping his arm around his partner's shoulder.

Blair grinned up at him, and Jim held him a little tighter in response.

"Lead on, Macduff," Jim ordered.

* * * * * *

April 22, 1999

Jim was watching the ten o'clock news, not really paying attention, thinking about the shitty day he'd had, when a story about Earth Day caught his eye.

Earth Day? That was today? Sandburg hadn't said boo about it. But then it wasn't like he and Sandburg were doing that well at communicating right now. Things had been off between them since Sandburg had found Barnes kissing Jim on that beach in Sierra Verde. And he knew he'd let the kid down in the Ventriss case. He'd also been in the wrong when he'd looked at Sandburg's research when he'd been specifically asked not to read it yet.

He could hear Blair typing away in his bedroom, probably working on finishing up his dissertation. Blair was spending most of his time in there when Jim was in the loft. Jim didn't like him retreating like that, but he supposed he couldn't blame him -- being thrown out of the place that he had considered his home probably did that to a guy. Had considered his home. These past few weeks Blair had acted like he really was just a renter in Jim's loft.

His 'renter' opened his bedroom door, mug in hand, and headed for the kitchen.

"Sandburg? Did you know today was Earth Day? You didn't say anything about going down to Rainier..."

Blair sighed, put his mug down on the counter, busied himself with filling a teakettle, and turned on the stove.

"I meant to go, but today I just wanted to work on my thesis, so I can get it done and turn it in, so I blew off doing Earth Day stuff. Why? I wasn't going to pester you to go with me; I know you've got better things to do."

Sandburg didn't want to spend anymore time with him than he had to for his research. And Jim was just his research subject, after all.

"Never mind." He stood up and headed to the bathroom; tomorrow would be another shitty day, and he should try and get some sleep.

As he tried to get comfortable in his bed, he looked over the railing at his partner -- at the guy he once thought would be his lover, but who turned out to actually be his... researcher. Sandburg was staring into his cup of tea, but he wasn't drinking it.

Jim rolled away from the railing and willed himself to go to sleep.

* * * * * *

April 22, 2000

"Only you, Sandburg, could have talked the Chief of Police into letting you do all this for Earth Day." Jim stepped closer and gestured at the attractively arranged booth, before coming around to the other side of the table and parking himself in the recycled plastic lawn chair next to his roommate.

Sandburg buffed his nails on his flannel shirt, and grinned at Jim. "Man, it's great PR for the department, and I've got handouts for all kinds of environmental laws - everything from dumping to pesticides. Plus this counts toward my consultancy hours, so I'm getting paid for being a 'community liaison.' Ya know, I love it when a plan comes together - especially one with a paycheck attached.'"

He bumped Jim's leg companionably with his own, and Jim responded by stroking Blair's own, emboldened by the fact that the draping in front of the table hid his actions.

"Blair... when Earth Day is over --"

"You'll hang around and help me pack up, right?" Blair acted like he didn't notice what Jim was doing, but the shift in his scent told Jim another story.

"Well, you're getting a paycheck to be here. What will I get?"

"The satisfaction of knowing you put your energy into helping people understand the laws protecting our ecosystem," Blair shot at him.

"And, besides giving Mother Earth a boost, what else?"

Blair breath was deepening, and his eyes were starting to dilate as Jim upped the ante by moving his hand to Blair's jean covered cock.

"And what else, babe?"

"What... else?"

Jim could have played this game the rest of the afternoon, but a Girl Scout troop descended upon them, and both he and Blair were busy for quite some time.

Finally, Rainier's annual Earth Day celebration was over, and the packing up commenced. Blair grinned at Jim over stuffing handouts back into boxes.

"So, what else would you like?"

"Oh, I think you know, Blair. I'm ready to stop waltzing around with you."

"Waltzing was fun. I needed a more formal kind of dance for a while; we both had a lot of things to work through and jumping into bed would have probably muddled things up hopelessly. But I'm ready to chuck waltzing out the window, too. How would you like to go dirty dancing with me tonight?"

Jim took the pictures of dumps out of Blair's hands and laid them on the table. Then he tilted Blair's head up and leaned down and kissed the man. With tongue. Just a sample of what he had in mind when they returned home and Blair finally climbed those stairs and joined him in his bed. Blair wasn't getting any sweet little pecks tonight; tonight was for passion, for hot, hungry sex.

Blair melted against him, and Jim gave him a last thorough preview of the evening's agenda.

Blair sighed happily. "You know what? I'm glad that we're going to do this tonight. I've always been really fond of Earth Day."

Jim smiled indulgently at his roommate, his friend, his consultant partner. And -- in a few short hours - his lover.

The End

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Acknowledgments: Thank you to Patt for the cover art. Beta'ed by Mab and written as part of the Sentinel Thursday contribution to the recycling theme.