Home for the Holidays - KarieAuthoress
Show me the way to go home...
Jim punched the button in the elevator as his new family bustled into the car together. Blair was looking rather tired from the trip and the boys were both nearly asleep on their feet. Jim was feeling none too steady himself as the doors closed and they made their slow way up to the third floor, and home.
“Jim, I’m serious man. You don’t have to do this. I know how you like your privacy and all.” Blair was bound and determined to not be a burden on his friend. Jim smiled faintly; the kid just didn’t understand. Although he couldn’t exactly call him a kid now, could he? He has his own kids now. And Jim was excited to be a part of their lives. The doors opened as the quartet began to spill out of the confines, Blair still babbling on, “The boys and I will find a hotel, we can crash and in the morning we can all... meet...”
Jim’s faint smile took on more substance as Blair began a slow circle in place, taking in all the changes in the loft, in Jim’s home... in their home. He sighed and continued on to the right, carrying the boys’ luggage. Blair stood rooted to the spot, but the boys followed, trusting their Uncle implicitly. Jim led them to a set of stairs set into the brick wall next to a series of large windows. Upstairs, in the enclosed upper room, a set of bunk beds sat to one side and twin dressers stood to the other. In the center of the floor was a trap door, closed and latched.
Jim dropped the bags he carried over by the dresser and knelt to rummage in them for pajamas. Armed with the nightwear (one sporting orca whales, the other with dolphins) he turned to the two boys and began the business of helping them change for the night. Blair entered the bedroom and smiled as he took in the kid furniture, light fixtures and colorful prints on the walls. One wall held a mural of Ayers rock from a distance. Jim gently pushed the boys to the beds, tucking each one in and kissing them goodnight. Blair came up behind him, also kissed the boys, and the allowed himself to be led back out as Jim shut off the lights.
The sun was going down outside the western balcony doors as Jim checked the lock on the stairway door. The elevator had its own security, and Jim made a mental note to make another override key for the panel. Blair would need one before the week was out. Blair stood near the new kitchen, one hand on the breakfast bar, and gazed around him once again. “All this space... what did you do? Buy the floor?”
“Try the building, Chief.” Jim replied. “After you left I started having trouble with my hearing. Dials weren’t responding and it was causing all sorts of headaches. I started acting like the crazy neighbor and kept some of the places on this floor empty.”
Blair snorted light laughter as he picked up his bag and looked around. He edged towards the room that used to be his, and Jim knew what he would find there. Opening the french doors, Blair found a full-sized bed and large armoire where his futon and desk used to be. “I’m guessing this is the guest bedroom?”
Jim shrugged as he leaned against the doorjamb. “If that’s what you want. I soundproofed the entire space, and sealed it so the drafts were nonexistent, so you shouldn’t get too cold.”
Blair looked over his shoulder, his eyes watching Jim. Jim held nothing back, allowing his emotions to show on his face. He set his bag down on the bed and walked over to stand before his friend, arms crossed over his chest in a desperate attempt to shield himself. Jim held his ground, waiting, arms also folded, but not to protect. “Jim I can’t... I...”
Jim reached out, two fingers resting on the trembling lips and causing silence to fall. With a half step, he covered the distance between them and stared down into clear blue eyes. “You don’t have to, Blair. I’ve waited this long, I can wait as long as you need.”
This seemed to calm his younger friend and Jim congratulated himself on his understanding of the situation. Although Blair had never been in love with the two women who had born him children, he did love them after a fashion. And so soon after their death, he was still grieving. But, Jim was a patient man, and now that Blair was back on his side of the world, he could afford the time.
Suddenly Blair let out a huge yawn and blinked his eyes sleepily. Jim chuckled before turning his friend around and shoving him back towards the bed. “Right, time for bed Dad.”
Blair growled, “Watch it, Jim. I can make things very difficult for you in the future, you know.”
Jim paused, shaken by Blair’s words. Blair turned suddenly, well aware of what he had said and how it could be misconstrued. “Jim, I didn’t mean it like that.”
Jim nodded, a weary smile on his face as he cupped the beloved jaw, whiskers tickling the palm of his hand. “I know. I was just thinking, about making things difficult for me, I think I already did that for myself years ago. But now that you’re here, all three of you, I can finally get some things right.”
Blair smiled, relieved, and turned back to the bed. Jim left him to get comfortable while turning off lights and leaving the nightlights on for the kids, a low light path from their stairs to the door of their bathroom. He went to bed upstairs in the newly enclosed loft bedroom, alone, but no longer lonely. It was only a matter of time before he and Blair could finally get things just perfect. For now, having him there at home was the next best thing.
Finally found a home...
Two near silent sets of feet padded down the stairs on the southern wall, two shadows in the early morning light stole through the wide open space and came to a stop side by side near the french doors that led to the original little room under the northern stairs.
Colin exchanged a grin with his brother, Liam, before carefully opening the door and peering inside. From the bed standing against the wall, they heard snuffling. Liam nudged Colin and slipped around him to enter the bedroom where their father slept.
Crawling into bed with Da, Colin took up one side and Liam took up the other, and they sat watching him sleep. Liam felt this was the first time in days their father had felt comfortable enough to do this, and he said as much to Colin by way of a near whisper. Colin smiled and agreed, then made a sudden shushing motion and pointing towards the door. Liam followed his gesture and saw Uncle Jim urging them back out of the room.
When they were out, with the door closed again, Uncle Jim led them to the kitchen and they climbed up on two of the breakfast stools. Uncle Jim grinned at them. “You two sleep well?” he asked.
Liam smiled back and nodded while Colin actually did the talking. “Yeah Uncle Jim, we did. It’s nice here, not too loud. I like the smell too.”
Uncle Jim grinned as he began to pull things out of the fridge, and cupboards to make breakfast. “I had help with the work done on the place. My father’s housekeeper, Sally, came in one day and left some potpourri and other sweet smelling things for the apartment. A few throws for the couch. To add to what your Da had already left behind.”
Liam canted his head to the side in thought as Colin asked, “Where is your Da, Uncle Jim?”
“He’s at home right now. But I expect him to be here in a couple of days with presents for Christmas.” Uncle Jim turned his attention to cooking breakfast and making coffee while the boys sat and pondered his last words. Christmas was coming, and they had forgotten. Liam looked at Colin, raising an eyebrow and whispering delicately to his Sentinel.
”We need to decorate for Christmas... and go shopping... I wonder if Uncle Jim knows someone who can help us with that.”
Colin shrugged, and then jumped when Uncle Jim called back, “I’m sure I can find someone to help you two sneak off for Christmas shopping.”
Liam blinked, then burst out laughing. Colin soon joined him when he figured it out. They had forgotten that Uncle Jim was a Sentinel as well. How silly of them! Uncle Jim poured a cup of coffee, putting sweetener and creamer in it, and then holding it out to his right side as the french doors opened and Da came stumbling out. Da mumbled thanks and sipped the hot brew before grinning at the boys and looking around the kitchen area.
“Man, this place is awesome, Jim. I mean, you have how many bedrooms?”
Uncle Jim rolled his eyes and set a plate of poached eggs and whole wheat toast and a glass of orange juice in front of Liam, then Colin, and finally Da, and growled at him to, “Just sit down and eat, Chief. I promise to give you the full tour later, okay?”
Da grinned as he sat and did as told. “Some things never change, Jim.”
Uncle Jim paused before take a bite, his eyes softening as he watched Da, “I hope not, Chief.”
Liam and Colin grinned before they also began to eat.
Blair had thoroughly investigated the apartment while Jim went shopping with the boys, but there was one room he had refused to go into. The door to the left of the elevator wasn’t locked, but it seemed important. He could have sworn he had seen the glass in the doorway before. Haida art, he was sure of it.
But instead of going in, he decided to learn as much of his new home as possible. This was what led him to the roof.
Stepping out of the door to the roof, Blair found the greenhouse his mother had told him about. It was closed for the winter, but the door was unlocked so Blair went inside. There were several pots of herbs, medicinal plants and vegetables that Blair kept on hand in his own kitchen. But way in the back were a few other pots that Blair had not expected to find.
“Poinsettias...” And then Blair remembered. It was only three days til Christmas and he had not gotten anything for Jim. This would never do.
Taking the poinsettias downstairs, and then coming for herbs, and vegetables to make with dinner, Blair set about searching the storage room downstairs in the basement for the Christmas decorations that Blair knew Jim had hidden there. He remembered a couple of years in which they would decorate for the holidays.
In passing, he wondered why Jim hadn’t decorated this year, but that was easily passed off as he understood that until a week ago, Jim had no one to decorate for. No one to celebrate the holidays with except for his dad, brother and Sally. But now, there were the boys... and Blair. He paused as he felt that thought settle in. Until now, Jim had been alone. Mightened he feel a bit overwhelmed now with Blair and TWO boys in the apartment?
But no, the evidence stated the opposite. The apartment is larger than it was before. There was a bedroom for the boys, specifically decorated with them in mind. And a small study beneath their bedroom so that they had space to play, to do homework, to relax. And then there was the door beside the elevator, the mysterious room that led to something he could only imagine.
The door with his glass art window in place.
With a deep breath, Blair made himself go to the door and open it. Inside he was faced with a large picture window that faced the west, as the balcony doors did, and shelves. Tall two story shelves filled with books. His books. His things from the University, from his little room under the stairs, which he had left behind when he had moved. And there was room for more. To his right, with shelves behind it, stood a mahogany desk with an executive chair sat facing out towards the entrance. It held all the trappings of a full scale home study.
Standing there, in the doorway, Blair was so enthralled with what he saw, he missed the return of the boys and Jim. He was startled when he felt a hand wrap around his waist and a chin settle on his shoulder, Jim leaning against him to look in the room with him. “You like?”
Blair smiled, “I like.”
Jim smiled with him, he could feel it in the face that leaned against his own. “I wanted to make a place for you to study and not worry about taking up room. I wanted a space you could feel was yours.”
Blair wrapped his hands around Jim’s arm. “I like it; it does feel like my space... it feels like home.”
Jim squeezed gently, “Good. Now, we have to get this place ready for Christmas, right?”
Blair reached out and closed the door, his eyes twinkling as he turned in Jim’s arms and kissed him on the cheek. Finally, Blair could say he was feeling like this was home.
I’ll be home for Christmas.
The man took a half step back and canted his head to the side. Before him stood two little boys, one with straight brown hair and bright blue eyes in a clean, elfin face, and the other with short curly brown hair and with freckles across his nose and equally crystal blue eyes. They grinned brightly at him after delivering their greeting. He grinned back.
“Okay, don’t tell me, let me guess,” the man said. He pointed to first the curly haired boy, then the other. “You must be Colin and... you, are Liam, am I right?”
Liam smiled while Colin nodded his head happily, “Right... and you are...” Colin began as he sniffed at the man’s sleeve. Liam’s hand automatically reached out to rest on the nearest shoulder and remained there when Colin stepped back, “You are Uncle Jim’s family.”
The man chuckled as he walked towards the coat rack where Uncle Jim kept the coats and other things. “Yes, I’m your Uncle Steven.”
The boys grinned as they showed him the huge tree set up near the balcony doors. He placed the four boxes he had brought with him under the tree and turned around when he heard a voice coming from the study. Uncle Jim was just coming out with another man that Uncle Steven recognized immediately. “Hello Blair,” he called.
Da looked up and smiled at him, Uncle Jim smiling as well, and Uncle Steven looked delighted to see that things were going to be better now. The boys drifted away when they heard the chiming of the elevator again. The doors opened and they were delighted to call out “Happy Christmas!”
Out stepped Bubbe Naomi and the boys squealed with delight as they rushed her already full arms. Dropping packages left and right, Naomi didn’t hold back, but swept them both in a fantastic hug. The three of them took no notice as Uncle Steven, Uncle Jim and Da dealt with packages and her coat. Finally, Naomi pulled back to look at them. “You two look wonderful!”
Liam smiled as Colin beamed and turned to introduce Steven. “This is Uncle Steven, Naomi. He’s Uncle Jim’s brother.”
“Ah, yes. The Ellison I hadn’t met. Pleased to meet you, Steven.” Naomi moved out of the elevator’s way when she heard the ding announcing more arrivals and the four adults began to catch up. Liam grinned at Colin and waited for the doors to open.
Standing before them was an older gentleman, snow white hair and mustache across his upper lip, and a sweet older woman with twinkling dark eyes who was clearly of Asian ancestry. Colin greeted them warmly. “Happy Christmas!”
The old man canted his head to the side and frowned slightly as the woman stepped out. “Well, who have we here? Sally, don’t these two boys make a damn handsome pair?”
Sally, the woman, grinned as she slipped out of her coat for the old man to catch. “Yes they are. They remind me of Jimmy and Stevie at that age.”
Colin glanced at Liam and they both nodded. Obviously this was Mr. Ellison, Uncle Jim and Uncle Steven’s Da... but what to call him. Liam whispered to Colin and Colin grinned. “Hi Grand Da, my name is Colin Blair. This is my brother, Liam Blair. Uncle Jim and Da are showing Uncle Steven and Bubbe Naomi the library. Want us to take your packages to the tree?”
William Ellison seemed shook by the boy’s words but he quickly settled himself and smiled back down at the both of them. “I think that would be fine,” he replied as he handed them over. Colin heard him chuckling and telling Ms. Sally that the two boys would grow up to be fine men, if their first impression was anything to go by. He whispered to Liam, who replied softly that they would have to ask Da what ‘im-pres-sion’ meant.
The elevator chimed again and Colin was first to stand beside it with Liam sliding into place at his side moments later. “Happy Christmas!”
The large black man filling the entrance made Liam take a half step back and slip in behind his taller brother, eyes impossibly wide. Colin puffed himself out to try and appear larger to the threat to his Guide, glowering as he pushed Liam a little further behind him. Uncle Jim slammed out of the study like a shot, only to slow down when he caught sight of the newcomers. The big man canted his head to the side, amusement clear on his dark features. The younger man behind him hid his face behind a large hand and appeared to shake from uncontrollable laughter.
“Stand down, Sentinel. Your Companion is safe. The territory is secure.” Uncle Jim’s voice was calm and certain and Colin felt comforted by the backup.
“Sorry Uncle Jim... he caught me by surprise. You said he would smell like cigars, but you didn’t say anything about him being bigger then you, yeah?” Colin sniffed as he put a comforting arm around Liam’s shoulders. Da came over and swept his younger son into a hug, carrying him off to the living area while Uncle Jim stood by Colin and smiled at the big man.
“You’re right, Col, I did forget to mention it. Simon, take your coat off while I calm the next generation down a bit.”
Colin and Uncle Jim moved off to talk while Da and Liam discussed things on the couch in a hushed whisper. ”He’s so big, Da.”
“Yes, Liam. Simon is tall, but he would never hurt you. He has a son of his own, who I see is also tall... probably taller than I am now.” Da grinned as he tucked Liam’s head under his firm chin. Liam shuddered as he tried to come to terms with this. There were men bigger than Uncle Jim. And Uncle Jim was huge!
”Da, do you think Uncle Jim has ever been scared of him?”
Da seemed to think this was funny as he squeezed just a bit tighter. “Nah, Uncle Jim could take Uncle Simon any day of the week. Remember, Uncle Jim has mad skills!”
This sent Liam into a fit of giggles as Uncle Jim and Colin appeared from the other room. Hopping out of Da’s arms, Liam raced over to join his brother when they heard the final ding of the night. The doors split open and Aunt Meggie stood before them. With bright smiles on their faces they threw up their arms and cried out, “Happy Christmas!”
That peaceful place I call Home
The boys had conked out hours before. Midnight was just too far away for them and it left Jim alone with Blair. In their home, on New Year’s Eve. They had forgone all the invitations to parties, promising that things would be better next year. But this year, so soon after the twin deaths of Sheryl and Darleen Blair, it was not a good time to go out and party.
Blair sat on the sofa, looking out the balcony windows that faced the bay, and watched the stars twinkle in the night sky. Jim came to sit next to him, wrapping an arm around his shoulders and sniffing delicately at his long curls, enjoying the peace and the quiet thumping of his Guide’s heart. Blair chuckled lightly at his Sentinel’s antics. “Jim... last year I thought about this. I thought about you and me. It was... hard.”
Jim nodded against him, warm breath skating over his neck, his cheek as he turned and smiled faintly. “All the time in the world, Blair. You don’t have to rush for me.”
Blair nodded once. “But you’ve already waited how long?”
Jim sat back as if in thought before replying, “Twelve years? Or there abouts.”
Blair blinked as he calculated the years and dates from that statement. No, that was too coincidental. His Jim didn’t fall in love that easily, it was just not...
“Jim?” he leaned back enough to get a look at his Sentinel’s face, the expression facing him one of understanding, respect and love. Yes, this was real, this feeling of contentment. It had most likely been there for quite a while, but Jim had just refused to give in to it. Not while he was so easily distracted on the job. Now that he could drop his defenses working as a Captain, he could finally reveal those emotions to his Companion... his mate... his heart. Blair smiled as he finished his thought, “I do love you.”
Jim leaned in and, with infinite care, pressed gentle lips to Blair’s. Blair sighed at the touch, raised a hand and stroked the soft hairs at the back of Jim’s neck. They only went as far as a small kiss, no opening of mouths, nothing deep. But it was enough for Blair to know that Jim was interested. Very interested. And he made certain to show Jim that he was just as interested.
With the lights off and the balcony doors closed but clear to show the night sky, the soon-to-be lovers kissed until they heard the first fireworks pop among the stars.
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Acknowledgements: Thank you to my two wonderful betas, Marnie and Dorothy, you rock! Thank you to Patt for the cover art.