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illumination

Illumination
by Molly
June 2000

She smiled at Blair from various shades of darkness.

She danced, she cooked, she watched him and seemed to like who he was, what she saw, something that was there in his shape and form. Doing things, saying things, with his body and his mouth. She reveled in him, and she took her leave.

So many of them, and so few had names. Blair was careful about that now. But before - Maya, she had a name, such a permanent name, one that stuck in his mind and always meant such beautiful things. And yet she faded away with an abstract ease that still made him wonder. And then she came back, and it was worse, because they're not supposed to come back after you let them have a name. Things with names are here or they're not here, but they shouldn't be both. No middle ground to be had. He wasn't so sure, anymore, about what he'd heard - that a grieving mother needed to hold the stillborn child; wasn't sure anymore that it could really do any good. Because real things can become as wispy as aching dreams.

He named her, and she came back. And her lips were full and moist from the rain, and his head hurt, of course his head hurt, just like the last time, just like him to fail in his attempts to make sure her rescue of him went down without a hitch. She tried, and she was real, but then he kissed her, and again, and then she was gone.

And his head still hurt. Jim smiled at him after they handed off the FBI mess to Simon, a gentle smile, a smile that said something about there being no noodles this time, because noodles weren't all that great, anyway, just rubbery messes to chew and swallow. They went home, where Blair could sleep, because the paramedics had said no concussion and that was good enough for Jim. For Jim, because it was all for Jim, because Jim was a cop and that made Jim the law and that made everything in Blair's life just a little bit easier.

Until she came back and he began to wonder - trying to sleep, begging for sleep - what it all meant. That she could have a name, a name he remembered and cherished, and still go in and out of his life as a glimmer of cruel reminder. He hadn't closed the doors tonight, and Jim was watching a game, and it hurt to realize that Jim had a name, but it didn't seem so stable anymore.

Jim could disappear. The thought sucked the breath right out of his body. Jim was not a constant.

He really wanted to be asleep.

***

He went back and he sat on the bench, by the water. He stared out and he thought about how Francisco had looked at him, so wholly unimpressed. Didn't look like much. Of course not.

Fucking naturally.

Jim kept focusing on the cut on his forehead. Reminding him to clean it, finding various ways of checking in and making sure it was healing. Blair shrugged and nodded each time, brushing it off, wishing he knew how to tell Jim that the last thing he wanted was to remember it all.

As if he could forget, in the first place. It was a small thing, really, but it gnawed at him. It was becoming vitally apparent that - that he wasn't much, and never would be. Jim had mentioned stopping to check his pulse, and for a second he was blindsided by a flicker of appreciation, and then the cold, hard reality kicked in. Because it mattered, after all, when Jim had to take a few seconds to check on *him*, to make sure he hadn't really stepped in it this time.

He could wonder if he had some subconscious attraction to looking down the barrel of a gun. If his thoughts ran along those lines, that is. Which they didn't.

Usually.

***

Jim was smiling. Jim was in a good mood, and so Blair hated doing it now. It would be difficult to pinpoint when that started, when preserving Jim's cheer had taken such precedence. Most likely, around the time the failures started to add up, and keeping Jim happy was the way to make that fade into the background. For both of them.

But not today, and never again. Blair ducked past him, into his room, where he closed the door and closed his eyes and wondered how much else he was closing off. And then he went back out to Jim and blinked a few times.

"It's like this," he started, but the words caught and he had to try again. "It's like...things got all weird and I don't know what to do about it."

Jim looked up from chopping vegetables. "What are you talking about, Chief?"

"I'm talking about...things, man. *Things*. Don't you notice things?"

"Of course I notice 'things', Sandburg. Hard to avoid it with the senses, okay? And the only weird 'thing' I'm noticing is you. What's up?"

"What's up...it's...I think we're done, man. I think maybe we've both gotten what we need. So, ah, um -- We're done."

A large part of him wished he'd missed the expression that crossed Jim's face; it was too much, and it made it so hard. It was...baffled, crestfallen. It was almost that oh-so-necessary affirmation that he was, indeed, needed. Almost. And since it didn't quite measure up, he tried very hard to ignore it.

"What are you saying?" Jim asked quietly, staring down at the brightly colored organic bits that littered the cutting board. Blair could smell onion and green pepper, and he considered briefly that Jim had a whole different experience of it, over there.

"I'm saying." He stopped, breathed. Tried not to panic. "I'm saying you're in control, Jim. You're so fucking in control, and I'm not, but I've got my research and my data and I can write the damn diss now and...and you don't need to put up with me anymore."

Jim dumped the entire pile of vegetables into a skillet of melted butter. "Yeah, okay, whatever." He fixed a hard gaze on Blair. "So. You moving out? What?"

It was simple and it hit Blair with the full force of everything Jim Ellison had *ever* been able to do to him. He actually winced. "Yeah, I guess - I'm looking for a place. I'll, um, hand in my observer pass and stay out of your hair."

"Sure, Sandburg. Hey, dinner will be ready in twenty minutes, okay?" Jim turned away. "Maybe thirty. I - I don't know."

"Jim -" There was nothing left to say, though, at least, nothing that came immediately to his generally verbal mind. "Thirty. Yeah, that's good. I'll...get out of your way."

And so he backed up, to his room, retreated so as to not step on any toes, to leave plenty of room for every foot to have its own space. He looked around and everything looked blurry, and when he realized there were tears he got angry, but he couldn't do shit about it because fuck Jim and his senses and his goddamned affable approach to things that Blair needed some argument over.

A fight. A good, old-fashioned fight, over something that wasn't genuinely wrong, at all.

***

He didn't turn in the pass. He didn't go to the station at all, and he didn't mention police work, or senses, or zone-outs, or anything else that might pull his - former - role back into the spotlight. Jim went to work and came home, watched TV...and let Blair alone. And so Blair just went about his less-than-merry way, replacing the time he usually spent with Jim with the Classifieds.

He and the newspaper were becoming good friends. He had the ink stains on his fingers to prove it. But he couldn't find anything, because it was all too big or too small, and the couple times he found what would probably be a perfectly sufficient apartment, it was just too perfect and he would find himself slapped in the face with how easy, how *normal* it could be to live without Jim.

Without Jim. Because Jim was not a constant. He needed to get used to that.

After two weeks, he got used to it. He looked at a tiny apartment ten miles from the loft and left after five minutes, promising to be back the next day with the security deposit. Then he went home.

It was too sunny a day for what he had to do, except when he reconsidered, it seemed perfect. Seemed like all his normal days had been gray and cold lately; nothing like a little sunshine to break routine. He looked up at the sky and squinted, and it hurt his eyes anyway, so they moistened and he sneezed, once, and all he could think of was how this was a picnic compared to whatever Jim must feel looking up on days like these.

He started packing early, as soon as he got home. Jim was at the station for two more hours, and Blair refused to let himself think about how by then, he'd gotten a good deal of his material life neatly squared away, neater than it had ever been in more than a year of living there.

No, he didn't think about that at all. He looked around at the increasingly barren room, at the dust catching the sunlight, at the boxes scattered around. And he heard Jim come in and close the door, and he got up and went out to meet him.

Jim was hanging up his coat and Blair forced his hate to the surface, because he had to do this, he had to say this and make it real, realer than anything that could be taken back. He stared at Jim's shoulders and he frowned. Jim's shoulders, broad and strong and in need of absolutely *nothing* from Blair. Jim's back, turned away, walking away, shirt moving with muscle and shoulder blade, every motion screaming stay put, stay here, don't follow me, I. Don't. Need. You.

He tucked some dusty hair behind his ear and gave a quick tug on his earrings. "I. Um, Jim? I - I need to talk to you."

He frowned at the way Jim dipped his head, bowed it ever so briefly in resignation before he turned casually. It wasn't like *he* wanted to have this conversation, either. "Yeah, sure, Chief. Good day?"

"Uh, yeah, I guess. Normal. I, um, I found an apartment. I can move in after this weekend. I'm going to sign all the papers tomorrow, put down first and last and the security deposit."

Jim blinked, his glassy blue eyes getting so clear in their cloud of confusion that Blair had to look away, suddenly afraid they'd get clearer and clearer and then he'd be able to see right through into Jim's mind. He didn't want that, no, never, didn't want to know what went on in there, what kinds of things Jim thought of him but was too decent a man to ever say out loud. So he shuffled to the fridge and pulled out a bottle of water, which was such an easy thing to focus on he actually tossed up a silent thank you to whomever might be listening.

"An apartment," Jim echoed, his voice dull. "An apartment."

"Yeah, man." Blair's voice squeaked a bit, and he struggled to regulate the pitch. "You know, I'm sorry it took so long, but the market's just really dry lately. I think this is great, though. Quiet area, still close to Rainier, good rent and all, not that I could beat the price here, I mean, you know, right?" He barked out a short laugh. "So I've been packing today and I got a lot of it done, and I'll be out of your hair before you know it."

"You're moving out."

"Well, yeah, Jim. I mean, we talked about this, remember? Since. I. Ah, you're doing great with the senses and all, and man, really, all the extra time the last two weeks from not being at the station with you, I've gotten loads of writing done. I think I can finish this puppy in no time, and...and..." He kicked the floor a bit. "Look, Jim, we both know I'm a master at distorting definitions to suit me. But c'mon, man, a week's a week and even I can't twist this one anymore. I think it's time for me to clear out...let you have the space you need."

Jim moved so fast Blair didn't register it until it was much, much too late. Not looking at him helped in that situation, but still, Jim went from staring blankly at him to surging against his body in such a fast, fluid motion Blair never stood a chance at avoiding it. And the fridge was cool and hard against his back, and Jim was warm and rock solid against his chest. He pressed him there, body strong and steady, eyes cold and angry, breath a hot, moist billow of air smacking him between the eyebrows. Blair grunted, astonished, and Jim's words were falling out so fast and furious he had to catch up.

"- fucking tell me what I need, Sandburg. You may be my guide - and let me assure you, you are, I don't care what it is you're pulling here, but you are - but you. are. not. me. Don't tell me what I need. You don't think you never think you never take even just one second to consider what the hell leaving might honest to god do to me and if you're so bound and determined to get out of here...You're. Gonna. Have. To go. Through. Me."

"Let me go," Blair whispered. His eyes hurt, they stung, they were getting wet again. But he couldn't cry, not in front of Jim. Not *over* Jim.

"Not a chance," the cop hissed. "Not until you talk to me."

"LET ME GO!" he roared, and it hurt so bad, the sound ripping from his throat. Jim hadn't been expecting it. He hadn't expected anything of the sort from Blair, and it hit his ears full force and he winced, stumbled back, and Blair slid to the floor and he stayed there, his eyes hurting, his throat hurting, his ass hurting because it hadn't been so much a slide as a swift drop all the way down. "Fuck."

He was crying. "Fuck," he said again. He scrubbed at his cheeks and scrambled up, keeping his eyes away from Jim and the way his hands were clamped over his ears. "Goddamn you, Jim."

***

Stay put. It was what Jim told him all the time, and he hadn't said the words this time but it was easy enough just the same. The boxes weren't even taped, and dust still marked the exact spots where everything should go.

He sat up most of the night, staring at the door and waiting for Jim to come through it. And eventually the lights went out and he was still alone, so he sat in the dark and waited until it was time to go to school.

At noon he left his office, checkbook tucked into his desk drawer, and he went to the station. It was raining. He was wet when he walked into the bullpen, and Jim looked at him. Just looked at him, and then sighed. "They make an awful lot of merchandise to prevent that cat-just-dragged-me-in look, Sandburg. Umbrellas, ponchos, and the like."

Blair shot him a look and sat down, shaking his hair just enough to be absolutely sure a few of the droplets landed on Jim's neat piles of paperwork. "Bite me, man. What's new today?"

Jim just nodded to said piles of paperwork. "It's all old today. And a good majority of it is on Simon's most wanted list. Wanna help?"

It gave him pause to think how easy Jim was allowing it to be, to just waltz back in and pretend. And so pretending wasn't so bad, once you picked up the knack for it, and he'd really hated that apartment, besides. He grabbed a stack of forms and frowned. "Jim - and I mean this in the nicest way possible - but you suck. You call this handwriting?"

"Lay off," Jim muttered, but he was smirking. "I didn't write those; Rafe did."

"Rafe? Mr. Refined has chicken-scratch penmanship?" Blair snickered. "That's too perfect, you know?"

"Yeah, I know. Now you wanna stop chortling and make yourself useful?"

***

He thought pretending would do just fine, indeed. He thought this could be another of those things that could just go away. In fact, it should be easier, because they hadn't really named it at all, they hadn't said what was wrong, and so it shouldn't be between them. And deep down he understood how wrong he was, but deep down didn't count because pretending was all about the surface.

At night, when he closed his eyes to sleep, Maya was still there. A lot was still there, like Maya and Jim and then Naomi was saying things about how the police force was just a huge, federally-funded gang, an organized militia geared towards subduing the masses, and he would wake up muttering things about colors and insignia and how it didn't matter because Jim didn't wear a uniform and Jim drove a truck.

It didn't matter, because Jim was Jim, which would always just be...different.

And then one day he ate some pizza and he woke up in the hospital after it was all over, and Jim looked the same. A little tired, a little pensive, but he was still Jim. And finally able to see again, because he looked at him. His mouth broke into a wide grin that actually reached his eyes, and Blair tried to remind himself that Jim didn't really glow in the sober light of day. A great smile, indeed, but not that great.

He resigned himself to Jim-and-Margaret, and found himself mildly disappointed when that didn't work out. Jim came home one night and shrugged, and all he would say was that everyone was on good terms, and Margaret had asked him to tell Blair that they were still on for a breakfast meeting on Wednesday. Blair chewed it over, and he talked to Margaret but didn't get any more information, and he watched Jim be around the loft more often again.

And finally Margaret said something one day in his office, said that some things are too ordinary to continue. She mentioned Jim and said it just seemed like pretense, from both of them, so it seemed easier to just say they liked each other and go on with life.

He nodded and changed the subject, then, because he was finding it increasingly difficult to talk about Jim lately. Or to Jim, lately. When he went home that night there was a casserole, and a loaf of hot, crispy bread, and as he watched Jim remove his apron and set everything on the table he shook his head and stomped into his room.

Jim followed him, of course. Opened the door and just stared, spatula in hand, waiting. So Blair muttered something along the lines of "Godot, man, fucking Godot," and Jim frowned.

"Dinner's ready," he said tersely.

"I'm not hungry."

"You're full of it. I can hear your stomach rumbling."

"Turn your damned hearing down, then. We're good at pretending here, Jim. Pretend you believe me."

"What's wrong with you?"

"Nothing is wrong with me. Why the hell does something have to be wrong with me just because I don't want you eavesdropping on my digestive system? I happen to think that's a perfectly normal request - well, not normal in the sense that *most* people have to go to the trouble of telling their roommates to butt out of their bodily processes, but you know, personal space and boundaries and all that would seem to allow me to want some fucking privacy for me and my stomach."

He almost felt bad when Jim just blinked. "Would you go away?" he snapped instead. "I'll eat later, okay? Modern miracle of the microwave and all that."

Jim leaned into the doorframe, crossing his arms. "What happened?"

"What do you mean, what happened?"

"'What do you mean, what...'" Jim parroted. "What the fuck happened, Sandburg, to put you in such a rotten mood? It's a simple question."

"Nothing."

"Liar."

"Leave me alone."

He really did feel bad then, especially when he really looked at Jim and saw a subtle confusion there. And it occurred to him that it was dark, that he was home late, too late, and he hadn't called so how the fuck had Jim known to plan a later dinner.

It was dark, but Jim wasn't smiling, and Blair groaned and flopped back onto his bed. "Shit."

Jim hesitated. "Chief...I didn't think you meant it, you know. I didn't think...I didn't think. I wanted you to be just spouting off at the mouth, so that's what I believed."

Blair opened one eye, peeking up at where Jim was now standing awkwardly just inside the room. He wanted to form some intelligent response, wanted to actually have understood what the hell Jim had just been talking about, but instead he spit out a smoothly eloquent, "Huh?"

"Moving out. I - Maya messed you up and I saw that, okay? But I. You were saying it was fine, or it would be, and then you said you were gonna leave and...Do you get this at all? It was - You were gonna leave."

"I didn't."

"Probably because I scared the shit out of you. I don't like scaring you, Sandburg, especially not with my body like that. It's not fair and I know that because you can't turn shit like that around so easily like I might be able to do with words, but...but you unpacked it all so I thought maybe it would be okay."

He understood, had *always* understood, in a way that actually worried him, how naturally Jim carried around guilt. He knew it was there, knew Jim didn't live a moment of his life utterly relaxed and without self-flagellating tension. But what he'd never been able to crack was the truth of it, the key of what kinds of things Jim beat himself up about. He'd never once suspected himself to be one of them.

He wasn't all that sure he wanted this kind of reality check. Pretense would be good, about now.

But Jim was there and it was dark, and somehow the spatula had wound up on the desk and Jim had wound up next to him, sitting gingerly on the bed, and he knew this talk wasn't about to just go away. So he sat up and dropped his forehead into his palms and shrugged. "You...fuck you, Ellison, you know? You asked if I was moving out in the same breath as you said dinner was ready."

He actually heard Jim's teeth click together as his jaw clenched. "You can...You don't have any idea what...You know how much I need you and sometimes that makes me hate you."

Blair yanked his head up and met Jim's eyes, startled. "What?"

"Blair, you - you try to say I'm fine, that the senses are fine, but they're not. And you said all that stuff about being almost done with the dissertation and - and it pissed me off that you get to walk away, and that you wanted to. I'm the paper to you, and when you don't seem to give a damn that I need you for more than some career move, I just. I want to shake you until you understand."

"You need me." He said it quietly, Sentinel soft, as his head dropped to stare at his hands. "You need me?"

"Yeah."

"I - " The anger suddenly roared to life in his chest, ripping out with such force it surprised even him. "I can't believe you, you stupid shit! Some career move? Career move? Are you crazy?"

"No. And I'm not blind, Sandburg. You get that dissertation done and figure out how to, ah, get through me, and you're out of here. Maybe some day I can say 'I knew him when,' but that's about it. You're on to bigger and better, and I'm just puttering around this place, getting older." Jim stood up, his voice taut and irritated. "That's reality, Chief. I know that. But...I'm sorry. I panicked when I thought it might happen sooner than I was ready for."

It couldn't be good for his heart, Blair thought, to keep hauling himself up along insurmountable anger just to fall right back down into a dizzying lull of stunned confusion. He brought a hand up to fiddle with his lower lip for a moment, then picked up enough of his spine to look Jim square in the eye. "Jim, if I didn't know you so well I'd think you were being a falsely modest son of a bitch. Instead you're just being a stupid jerk."

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, for one, the day Jim Ellison just putters around is the day I sell my photo of flying pigs to a tabloid and settle down in Tahiti. But mostly...you're ready for it, Jim. Your senses are fine, *you're* fine, and I - You don't need me. Not as much as you think."

"Don't start this again."

"I have to! I have to until you let me finish it, man." He was getting geared up; he could feel it and he couldn't stop it, like he couldn't stop his hands from reaching out in their customary conjunction with his words. He grabbed Jim's hand, yanking it up to shake it around. "You can run all over Cascade, you know? Whether you admit it or not, you've gotten good at this. So all that's left is...me. Me and my thesis, and it should *so* be done by now, Jim, it really should. But I'm an idiot and I think I let myself believe this could...I dunno. Last a while longer, I guess."

Jim pulled his hand away and stood up. "I'm telling you right now, Chief. It can. I promise."

Blair just sighed, feeling so defeated it went off the scales. "That's nice and all, man. It is. But you've just got no idea, okay?"

"Christ, Blair!" Jim hauled him up by the front of his shirt, yanking him close, and this time there was absolutely nothing solid to compare to Jim's chest. But funny, he found that Jim's chest was hard all on its own, and warm, even without the fridge behind him. It seemed very real, right then.

And Jim was breathing into his face again, and he wondered when the deja vu would kick in and he'd find himself crying on the floor. "You're so clueless, it's painful to behold. Listen to me, Blair. I really only know one way to say this. I need you. I need you, I need you, I need you. Now, I know my hearing is better than yours, and you often seem deaf to the important things I say, like 'Stay in the truck,' but you need to hear me right now. I *need* you."

He wasn't letting go, and Blair swallowed hard. And ohhh, but Jim was hard, so fucking hard, and his mind kicked into the safety of humor and giggled at the pun, but it wasn't all that funny because Jim was So. Fucking. Hard.

Blair licked his lips quickly, suddenly sweating. "Okay, uh - Jim, yeah, man, I hear you this time, 'kay? Loud and clear. You need me. Great. Problem solved. And. Um. Jim? You're not letting go, here."

Jim's eyes never wavered, which made all the sense it needed to for Blair, which wasn't much. He felt refreshingly unable to care about things making a lot of sense, and he remembered a time long ago when he had picked over a math problem at precisely the same pace as the rest of his class, and it felt good to just *match* for once. Jim was staring at him and he was staring at Jim, and he didn't really want to risk thinking and finding something hideously wrong about the whole thing.

Such as, that he was imagining every single ounce of it.

But he didn't seem to be, because Jim shook his head. "You didn't ask me to. Do you want me to?"

Matching was good, Blair reminded himself, and so he shook his head, too, and Jim's smile was so immediate and gratifying he didn't need the mental reminder to mimic it. He just did, and Jim just did, and even though Jim let go anyway, they wound up just doing while standing right up against each other.

"So," he eventually managed to squeak out. "So. You need me, huh?"

Jim rolled his eyes, but looked amused. "Yeah, Chief."

"*You* need *me*."

"I don't get why this concept is so hard for you to grasp. You're usually such a smart little tyke."

"Don't call me a tyke, you overgrown goon."

"Hey." Jim tapped a loose fist against Blair's cheek. "You shouldn't insult your Sentinel."

"You shouldn't go cracking jokes about your guide's height."

"It wasn't a comment on your height so much as your...youthful nature," Jim teased.

"You calling me immature? Mr. My-Decisions-*Always*-Reflect-the-Wisdom-of-my-Years?"

"Shut up."

"You shut up."

"Make me...tyke."

It wasn't a conscious thought - it wasn't even an *idea* or, much less, a glimmer of an inkling, until Blair found himself registering how Jim's lips were dry against his, and how there wasn't all that much between lip and tooth, no cushioning except his own lips. Nothing like Maya's full pout, nothing at all like Maya in the rain or Maya in his office, nothing like most of the women he'd ever kissed. Jim was hard, and he could feel the strength of Jim's jaw against his own, which seemed to draw him in faster, deeper than any other brief kiss he'd ever experienced.

No idea what he was doing, but he didn't care. He couldn't bring himself to care about anything but how hard Jim was and how soft the hands that were abruptly touching his hips were. He paused, pulled his face back just enough to take a long, hard look at Jim. He didn't understand what he saw there, couldn't read that particular look, but he knew instinctively that it wasn't bad, so he let himself fall back in.

This time Jim's mouth opened. The hands were sliding up his back the same instant that his tongue touched Jim's, and he couldn't be sure which part he was groaning at. It was one or the other, because there was the groan and it was coming from him.

Jim slipped into control, always in control, always leaving Blair wondering how he got such an immediate grasp on the best way to proceed. He sucked on the warmth of Jim's tongue and sucked in warm breaths stolen from Jim's own mouth. And suddenly all he could think of was how *now* Jim's lips were wet. Then he was thinking of how it felt to fall, how it felt to be so afraid of something your entire life, of heights, of falling, of crashing and burning, and of how falling backwards onto his bed with Jim was the most exhilarating thing to ever happen to him.

It all seemed to be happening to him, until he had a pillow under his head and a leg between his own, and Jim was leaning over him and pressing gentle kisses at the corners of his eyes. "Blair," Jim said softly. "It has nothing to do with need, okay?"

"ungh."

"I mean it." He slid his lips to Blair's ear, ran his tongue gently over the rim of cartilage. "I need you, I do. And I need...this. But it's not all need, understand?"

Blair was scrambling to catalogue every rush of sensation that Jim's breath against his skin caused. "Not exactly, no. Could you...um. I mean...huh?"

Jim laughed, and one of his hands was soft and callused, all at once, against Blair's cheek, and the other was forcing Blair to reevaluate his conception of his hip as a non-erogenous zone, simply by resting there with unassuming force. Except not assuming assumed everything, and Blair flushed, knowing he wouldn't be contradicting Jim's assumptions this time. "I want you, Chief. You okay with that?"

"Um. Jim, look, uh, not to be cliched or anything, but, ah, do you think you might just shut up and kiss me?"

Within seconds Jim had him feeling like a fumbling teenager again, filling his mouth with slick heat and cajoling his body into the necessary positions for removing clothing. That wasn't so bad, though, because groping around and losing his virginity with Erica Bloomstow in her room at the end of his first semester at Rainier was far, far from being the worst of Blair's sexual memories. They'd both laughed a lot, and he slept with his face in her hair that night, his hand on one breast. And she'd smiled at him in the morning and she still smelled so goddamn good.

He suddenly smiled up at Jim, who was unbuttoning his shirt with careful concentration. "Jim?"

"Mm."

"I want you, too, man."

"You were wrong, you know."

"When?"

"When you said we were done. We're not done, Chief. We won't be done for a long, long time."

"I can do that," Blair whispered. "I can totally live with that."

Jim smiled at him in the darkness. He seemed to like what he saw - Blair's body and Blair's mouth.

So Blair passed his thumb across Jim's lips and nodded. "Your name is Jim."

To which Jim frowned a little, but nodded. "Yes."

"You're not going anywhere."

"No."

"Good."

He could live with that. And he wanted to, as well.

**end**