Author's disclaimer: No profit made etc.
Author's notes: This one is for Susan who came up with the great idea of a Christmas Slash tree. What a great visual image. Thanks to Maggie B. for the quick beta. As always all remaining mistakes are my own since writers don't always heed a beta's wise advice. Happy Holidays to you all.
Takes place after Keys of My Soul, Rated NC-17 for explicit sexual discussion and acts. OFC--Allison Jamethiel Ellison (called "Jamie" only by her father and Uncle Jim)
Hands of Time
by Jessica L. Blackstone
Jim straightened the magazines on the coffee table and started into the kitchen to check on the stew. He had just turned down the heat, to leave it to simmer when the doorbell rang.
"Who is it?"
"Jim, it's me!"
"Hey Steven, hold on." Jim wiped his hands on a kitchen towel as he walked towards the door. "Come on in," he invited, after opening the door and abruptly turning back towards the kitchen.
"Is Blair around?" Steven asked as he followed his older brother.
"No, he's at the gym, why?"
"Well, I have a favor to ask and it concerns both of you."
"Why do I not like the sound of this?"
"Just hear me out, Jim, before you say no."
"Why are you going to ask me to do something that you know I won't do, little brother?"
"Well, I'm not really worried about you, actually...I'm worried about Blair," Steven reluctantly admitted as he walked over to the refrigerator and got himself a beer. "Actually I'm worried about both of your reactions but I have no other choice, Jim."
"Okay, spit it out Steven."
"You know that two-week trip to Paris I'm scheduled to leave for on Wednesday night...well, it seems I'm going to be there a little bit longer than I originally planned."
"How much longer?" Jim felt a sudden trepidation.
"A month, maybe more."
"Steven, you can't expect Dad to watch Jamie for that long, especially with Sally still in San Francisco taking care of her sister."
"I know, I know! That is why I want you and Blair to move in with Dad and help him take care of her for me."
"What! That's insane!" Jim looked at his brother as if he was certifiable.
"It'll only be for a little while, Jim. Four weeks maybe five. I don't want to leave her with some stranger and it's too long for Dad to handle alone. I'd be fine with leaving her here with you and Blair, but neither of you has any set work schedule. It really is the perfect solution, and Jamie loves being with you both."
Jim shook his head slowly as if trying to deny what he was hearing. "There is no way to re-schedule your trip?"
"None. We're at a very critical juncture in our overseas negotiations with one of our top clients. If there was any other way, I'd grab it," Steven assured him with a solemn expression on his handsome face.
"I'll have to check with Blair. If he says no, that'll be it."
"I understand. When do you expect him?"
"In about eight minutes, I can hear him getting into the elevator downstairs."
"What? Oh, I guess I'll wait, then."
"How does Jamie feel about going to Dad's?"
"Well, uh actually..." Steven stammered, not meeting Jim's eyes.
Jim groaned good naturedly. He knew his niece well. "Don't tell me. It was her idea, right?" He asked with a small chuckle. Jamie's antics always reminded him of Sandburg for some reason. Blair must have been a handful when he was Jamie's age. It was something he'd have to remember to ask Naomi the next time she breezed into town.
Steven nodded shamefaced. "I had made arrangements for a long-term nanny...stop glaring at me, Jim. She has worked for one of my friends for over 20 years as his housekeeper. Anyway when Jamie met her, it was clear that it wasn't going to work. I was trying to explain to her why she couldn't just go and stay at Dad's like usual, when she came up with this idea to invite you and Blair to help watch her."
"The kid is smart, no doubt about that, but what did Dad say?" Jim turned and grabbed a couple of bowls from the top cupboard.
"Damn it Steven!"
"I thought I'd ask you and Blair first, see if it was even a possibility, Jim. Come on, there was no need to mention it to Dad unless you're going to do it, right?" Steven entreated.
"Have you eaten?"
"No, but I have a lunch date in an hour."
Jim nodded as he picked up Blair's voice talking to someone else in the hallway. "Blair has company," he informed his brother just as Blair walked in with a young black man.
"Hey Steven, how ya doing?" Blair greeted.
"I'm doing fine, Blair. Been working up a sweat?" Steven returned, walking over to the two men, with his brother following.
"Yeah me and Jamie just had a couple of rounds in the ring. Steven, I'd like you to meet an old friend of mine, Jamie Williams. Jamie, I'd like you to meet Jim's brother, Steven."
Jamie grasped Steven's right hand briefly before giving a small nod in Ellison's direction. "Jim."
Jim returned the greeting with a similarly brief nod. "You guys work up an appetite? I made stew."
"Not for me, thanks. Sharita's expecting me," Jamie replied.
"Yeah, I dragged him up here to give him a classic blues tape," Blair said as he started walking towards his office with Jamie close behind him.
Jim's eyes narrowed slightly as Jamie closed the office door, but he let the temptation to listen in on the two men's conversation go. He firmly shifted his attention back to his brother who was fidgeting before him.
"Come on, Steven. I think you'd better take advantage of this little reprieve and call Dad to see how he feels about houseguests. I don't want Blair to be hurt," Jim warned. A hard glint appearing in his light blue eyes.
Steven sighed and pulled out his cell phone, "Hi, Dad, it's Steven. My Paris plans have changed a little..."
Blair immediately walked over to the shelf where he had a box full of tapes. "You're going to love this tape, Roy told me you liked the older blues recordings that you can't really find anymore. I've been meaning to give it to you for months ever since I found it in a bookstore," Blair chattered, totally unaware of the serious expression on the young man's face behind him.
"So you're with him now, the cop?"
Blair froze at the abrupt question and turned to meet Jamie's sober brown eyes. He had forgotten that this was the first time Jamie had seen Jim since they had both started wearing the rings. 'Damn it!' he thought with a mental sigh.
"Yes, does that bother you?"
Jamie was silent as his gaze shifted to the various objects decorating the shelf. "Not really, I guess it just clears up some of the suspicions I had long ago about you...and Roy," the younger man admitted.
"Roy loved you, Jamie. He just didn't know how to tell you. He never wanted to keep it from you," Blair said softly, hoping that Jamie would understand why his older brother didn't feel comfortable about talking about his homosexual leanings with him.
"It's cool," Jamie said with a sad smile. "Now, how about this tape you've been boring me about for the last hour?"
Blair handed him the cassette tape, and grinned. "I think you're going to really like it," he said as they walked into the hallway.
"Who's on it?"
"Oh, there's a couple from all of the great ones. There's an early one I hadn't heard from Ella on there."
"Sounds good," Jamie said as they walked past the kitchen. "See ya later, Jim." Jamie gave a brief nod at Steven, who waved while still talking on the phone. He paused at the threshold.
"Now Blair, Sharita has been bugging me about getting you out to the house for dinner. No more excuses, I want you and Jim to come over soon."
"We will, Jamie. You have my word. I'll see you next Saturday for my usual pummeling," Blair responded, laughing with relief that Jamie was handling the news so well. Jamie had come a long way from the insecure kid he was at the time of Roy's death. "Drive safely," he said as he shut the front door.
Blair walked over to his lover who was stirring the stew religiously as if he was going to be graded on it. "What's up?"
"What? Nothing," Jim quickly replied. Too quickly.
"Uh, huh," Blair said in an unconvinced tone. "Who's Steven talking to?"
"You know how I feel when you go monosyllabic on me, Jim," Blair warned as he reached out and stopped his lover's hand in mid-stir. He met Jim's hard look unflinchingly.
Steven's words broke the silent battle of wills between the two men as he joined them in the kitchen. "Dad says it is a great idea, Jim."
"What's a great idea?" Blair asked, holding Jim's gaze but releasing his hand from the spoon.
"Steven needs a favor," Jim casually stated, before he turned away to begin pouring stew into the two bowls on the counter.
"I'd be glad to help. What kind of favor is it?"
Jim snorted softly under his breath.
"Okay, what's going on guys?" Blair's gaze quickly switched between Jim and Steven. "You know how I hate it when you two do the psychic brother thing."
"It's about my trip to Paris." Steven slowly began walking back into the living room drawing Blair with him. "I'm going to be out of the country for longer than I planned and I was wondering if you and Jim would watch Jamie for me?"
"I don't see how...what with our schedules," Blair replied as he sat down on the couch. "If there was any way..."
"Actually there is, if you move in with Dad and help him watch Jamie."
"You can't be serious?" Blair finally managed after he got over his initial shock.
"I'm going to be gone for over a month, Blair. There is no other way, I'm desperate."
"Jim and I can't move in with your Dad, Steven. It's impossible! He barely tolerates me as it is," Blair elaborated agitatedly.
"That's not true." Jim walked over to stand behind Blair and rest his hands on the rapidly tensing shoulders.
Blair's eyes flicked up to his lover's face, "Come off it, Jim. Your Dad has been merely polite to me every time we've seen him." Mr. Ellison hadn't even commented on the wedding bands the first time he and Jim had visited after they had started wearing them.
"That's why this will be perfect," Steven argued. "Dad himself just told me that he welcomed the opportunity to get to know you better Blair."
Blair turned incredulous eyes towards Steven. "He said that?"
Blair reached up with his right hand to cover Jim's which was still on his shoulder. "What do you think?" he asked as he looked up to meet Jim's eyes.
"I don't think it will be easy, but I'm willing to try it for Jamie's sake. It's up to you though, if you're not comfortable with it, we won't do it."
Blair briefly closed his eyes at Jim's answer before he turned back to Steven's anxious face. "Okay, for Allison's sake."
"Thanks Blair. You're a life saver." Steven said and then surprised all three men, including himself by giving Blair a quick hug while getting to his feet. "I've got to go. I have an appointment. I'm going to be dropping Jamie off at Dad's Wednesday evening. Call me when you work out your own details." He hurried out of the loft as if worried that they might change their minds.
Blair sat, shell-shocked.
"Blair," Jim called, gently bringing him out of his fog. "My hand."
"Oh, sorry," he uttered, automatically releasing his grip.
"Come and eat," Jim suggested as he gently drew his lover to his feet and maneuvered him to sit at the table.
Blair narrowed his eyes suspiciously as he watched Jim place the bowls filled with steaming stew on the table. "Why aren't you freaking out? It's YOUR father, Jim."
"I'm aware of that."
"So, how come you are taking this so damn well."
"Well, I've had more time to get use to the idea and if it doesn't work out I'll just arrange with the guys at work to be home by five for a few weeks. Jamie can stay in your old room here."
"But that will mean handing over your caseload to someone else...are you sure you'll be able to?" Blair asked concerned, knowing damn well that the cases his lover got were usually the toughest as well as the best able to make a cop's career. Not that that was what mattered to Jim. Mr. Officer-of-the-Year was more concerned with catching the bad guys than making Lieutenant.
Jim nodded as he placed the crackers on the table. "What do you want to drink?"
"Coke. But we're talking about living with your father, Jim," Blair said, his voice rising agitatedly. "Sleeping together with your Dad just down the hall."
Jim raised his eyebrows at his lover's vehemence as he sat down and began eating.
"I can't believe you're so calm about it."
"I think you're upset enough for the both of us."
Blair continued to stare at Jim instead of eating. Jim pointed with his spoon at Blair's bowl, gesturing him to eat. "It's going to be a little weird, I grant you."
"I just don't want to throw 'us being together' in his face, Jim," Blair said quietly, before slowly picking up his spoon.
"Dad says he wants to be a part of my life, which includes you, Blair."
Blair looked down at his stew. So that was it. This was a test. Jim wanted to see just how genuine his father's desire to have his eldest son back in his life was. He nodded his acceptance. "Okay, I would like the chance to spend more time with Allison."
"Observe her you mean."
Blair tensed slightly. "Only to see how she controls her senses, in order to help an extremely stubborn and irritating Sentinel who shall remain nameless."
"I'll arrange to have all calls to the loft transferred to your mobile. Chris can keep an eye on the place," Jim quickly switched the subject to the routine task of planning their move before his mouth got himself into more trouble.
Blair reached out and grabbed Jim's hand. "You're not my lab rat, Jim. You never really were. I lost my objectivity with you pretty much from the beginning." He looked down at their joined hands.
"I was kidding even myself with that preliminary chapter that upset you. I overcompensated for my feelings towards you by making it overly cold and analytical. I observe now as your partner and guide. The clinical cold scientist, I'm not."
Jim squeezed Blair's hand. "I know, that remark just slipped out. Habit, I guess. I know you would never hurt Jamie--or me."
Blair nodded. Jim would always be defensive when it came to his sentinel abilities, another thing they had William Ellison to thank for. Ironic that the very thing that brought them together would always remain a small sore point between them.
"So we'll be sleeping in your old room, right?" Blair asked as he dipped a cracker into the stew before taking a bite.
"Yep, good thing for us that it's at the other end of the house from Jamie's and Dad's rooms. Wouldn't want to wake them up with your screaming and moaning," Jim teased.
"Ha Ha," Blair replied, unable to control the blood rushing to his cheeks as he remembered how loudly he had responded to Jim's attentions in the shower just this morning. "Steven bought a couple of white noise generators, didn't he?"
"Two. We'll bring ours to put in our bedroom for privacy. Dad will have one wherever he wants and the other is the one Jamie keeps in her bedroom so she can get some sleep." Jim paused as he studied the younger man eating beside him.
"Are you sure you're all right with this, Chief? We don't have to do it. Steven had arranged for a nanny to stay with Jamie. We're under no obligation." Jim focused on the tiny movements of Blair's eyelashes which seemed to be shielding the emotions in the deep blue eyes from his view.
Blair raised his eyes to meet Jim's. "I'll be fine, Jim. It's just going to be a little bizarre."
"Isn't that the normal state of being for the Sandburg zone?"
A wry smile covered Blair's handsome face, "Touche."
A couple of days later
Blair was relaxing. It had been a long day and all he wanted to do was lie here. The faint sounds of Jim rattling below downstairs became an odd lullaby as he felt himself drift closer to sleep.
"I've been thinking..."
"I'll call Ripley's," Blair murmured as he opened his eyes briefly to see Jim standing awkwardly beside their bed looking down at him. "What's wrong?" He asked as he closed his eyes eager to get back to drifting.
"Nothing," Jim replied as he joined him in laying on the bed, "I've been thinking..."
"You're repeating yourself, Jim."
"Sandburg..." Jim said in a warning tone. The kid could be such a wise ass.
Blair tried to control the amusement in his voice as he contritely said, "Sorry."
"I was wondering," Jim paused, as he turned and scrutinized the attractive face whose blue eyes were mercifully closed before continuing, "what it would feel like to have you inside me."
Blair slowly turned his head as he opened drowsy eyes to meet Jim's nervous blue gaze. "How long have you been thinking about this?"
"Awhile...for a couple of months."
He nodded his head considering, "And?"
"I want to try it."
Blair raked his hand through his hair as he thought about it. "Okay." Confusion filled him as Jim suddenly sat up and made a awkward grab for the lube from it's stashed placed beneath the extra pillow.
"I didn't mean right now," Blair said bemusedly.
Jim was stunned silent for several seconds as he turned back towards Blair. "What, why not?" he asked finally.
Blair turned over on his left side to face Jim. He reached up with his right hand and slowly drew Jim back to lay flat beside him on the bed.
"I may not have heightened senses, Jim, but even I saw your body relax when I told you that we weren't going to do anything...just broaching the subject has you extremely on edge."
"And that's not the way, especially not for a first time. I want you to feel only anticipation, excitement--no fear. I want you so hot that you will be able to think only of a single thing. Me deep inside of you," he whispered, lightly skimming the outline of Jim's jaw-line with his right forefinger while his blue eyes focused on the slightly parted lips which were just too irresistible.
He placed a gentle kiss on Jim's slightly down turned mouth. "But we aren't even close to that step yet. We don't even know how you'll react to having a finger inside of you for longer than a few seconds, which is partly my fault."
Jim was troubled by the guilt he heard in Blair's voice. "How is it your fault?"
Blair sighed as he turned to lie flat on the bed and stare at the ceiling. "I haven't caressed you like that in months. Not since I last went down on you..."
Jim moved to lay half sprawled across Blair's chest, worriedly taking in the somberness. "I don't miss it, Blair. Having you here is all that matters to me," he whispered before gently coaxing Blair's lips apart for a kiss.
Blair relaxed into the kiss, letting his anxiety go.
"Okay, so not tonight," Jim declared in a cheerful but clearly relieved tone.
"Not tonight, but now that I know you're interested, we'll work our way there."
Blair's blue eyes darkened with desire at the thought of being inside Jim. "And it's going to be a very pleasurable journey," Blair teased and proceeded to give him a taste.
Wednesday, Early Evening.
"Is that everything?" Jim asked impatiently as he walked back into the loft after playing bellboy for the last hour.
"Yeah, all I have is my laptop and my briefcase left."
"Still don't know why you needed all those clothes," Jim muttered as he picked up his gun case. "We're going to be coming home every weekend to do laundry."
"I don't want to be stranded if we end up working through the weekend, Jim. Plus, I have to pack two wardrobes. I can't wear jeans and flannel shirts to the review board meetings."
Jim nodded. He had forgotten that for the next couple of weeks that the bean counters were out in force conducting the annual review to determine which procedures and departments had extraneous personnel or expensive habits. Blair's duties spanned three departments, so he would have several meetings compared to Jim's one.
"Let's go," Blair exclaimed with a grin.
Blair bounced through the door into the hallway, with Jim following more sedately. For better or worse he was going home.
"Take it easy on the way over there, Junior," Jim called to Blair as his lover got into his Volvo.
"Sure thing, Dad." Blair pulled out of the parking lot with a broad smile on his face.
Jim got into his truck and followed, quickly catching up to Blair within two blocks. He winced as the song that was blaring from the car's open windows in front of him hit a particular high note. Jim shook his head as he watched the curly head in front of him move in time to the music. Sandburg couldn't do anything quietly.
A bemused smile still covered Jim's face as he pulled up in front of his childhood home.
"That's taking it easy, Sandburg?" he grumped as he walked over and opened the door for Blair.
"What? I followed the speed limit."
"You drive recklessly."
Blair burst out laughing, "I can't believe you, of all people just said that." He was still chuckling as he walked past Jim and opened his trunk.
"Smartass!" Jim called to Blair, who was walking on the pathway to the front door, leaving him once again to get the suitcases.
"Takes one..," Blair softly said, knowing Jim could still hear him. He lifted the knocker and waited for someone to answer the door.
"What are you waiting for, babe? Go in," Jim told him as he came up behind Blair, carrying his gun case and one suitcase.
"Better get use to the idea," Jim advised as he opened the door and ushered Blair inside. "Otherwise you're going to spend a hell of a lot of time waiting outside for the next couple of weeks."
Jim put down the suitcase he was carrying just inside the foyer. "Dad! We're here," he called while he used his hearing to locate his father. "He's in the kitchen," he told Blair as he motioned for him to place his laptop and case on the table in the foyer.
"Dad," he greeted as he entered the kitchen with Blair on his heels.
"Jim, Blair," William Ellison greeted the men as he pulled the last of the tin foiled containers from a brown paper bag. "I didn't think you'd feel like going out, so I ordered in. Are you in the mood for barbecue?"
Both men nodded their heads. "Do you need any help, Mr. Ellison?"
"No, I can handle it. I'll let you two get settled in, and it's William."
Blair flushed as he nodded, "I forgot, William."
"Let's go and finish unloading your car," Jim suggested already on his way out of the room. Blair was just turning to follow when he turned back towards William with a startled expression.
"I left two house keys on the mantle," William repeated while transferring the food from the containers to plates. He glanced up and met Blair's surprised eyes, knowingly.
Blair gave a stiff nod with a small slightly tense smile on his face. 'Maybe this wasn't going to be so bad, after all,' he thought to himself as he went out to help Jim.
"Why are there two master bedrooms? Not that I'm complaining, I thought we'd have to share a bathroom with Jamie," Blair asked as he put their shaving kits on the sink and their toiletries all in their appropriately designated places according to the Ellison Code.
"God forbid. This use to be my mother's room. She insisted on having her own room when Dad was having the house built. I moved into it when I was around 14."
"Hmmm." Blair walked back into the bedroom and sat down on the bed to watch Jim. "How old were you when they divorced?" he casually asked as he ran his hand across the comforter.
Jim stilled. He walked out of the closet with an impassive expression on his face. "Drop it, Blair."
"Ah Jim, you never talk about your mother. Hell, I don't even know if she's alive or dead. The only thing you ever told me was that she was gone."
Annoyance filled Jim's light blue eyes at Sandburg's persistence. "She's alive," he tersely said before walking out of the room.
Blair caught up to Jim at the bottom of the stairs.
"Did you pick up your house key?" Jim asked as they passed the parlor.
"Yeah. Sorry about earlier."
"Don't worry about it," Jim dismissed his earlier irritation. 'It wasn't Blair's fault,' he thought as he unconsciously brought his left arm around to rest on Blair's shoulders as they walked into the dining room where his father was just sitting down at the head of the table.
"Beer, Chief?" Jim asked, as he paused in the doorway to the kitchen.
"No, I'll have tea," Blair replied as he sat down on William's left putting his hand on the pitcher.
Jim was drinking his beer as he returned after a few moments to sit down across from Blair.
"Hope you boys are hungry," William commented, breaking the silence that had fallen at his son's departure.
"Definitely, moving builds up the appetite," replied Blair.
"How would you know, Darwin? I did all the grunt work," Jim complained good naturedly as he began to eat.
"I helped," Blair protested.
"How? By packing?"
"That is a necessary part of moving, son," William interjected.
All three men laughed breaking the awkward atmosphere that had been building.
"I'll give you a massage later," Blair promised, feeling somewhat guilty at leaving the heavy lifting to Jim. He felt his cheeks flush slightly as he saw Mr. Ellison stiffen at his casual remark.
"What time are you expecting Steven?" Jim asked, giving Blair some time to recover his composure.
"Seven or eight. He wanted to spend one last normal dinner with Allison at home." William replied.
Nothing was said for the next couple of minutes.
Blair was the first to break the silence. "How's Sally?"
"Fine. Fine. Her sister is recovering nicely from double bypass surgery."
"When is Sally coming back?" Jim asked.
"Not for a least another couple of months. The mild stroke Keiko had before, has left her needing assistance to get around."
"It's good that she is going to recover," Blair commented. "Sally must be overjoyed."
William just nodded his head.
"Any interesting cases you're working on, son?" William asked, breaking the silence that had fallen once again.
Jim's forehead wrinkled as he considered if any of his current cases could be judged "interesting" and still be fit for dinner conversation. He looked over for Blair's help.
"What about the Strackney case, Jim?"
"Yeah. An investment banker embezzled a couple million from his clients and then was stupid enough to put his wife's name on the Swiss account where he stashed it. She finds him with another woman and divorces him--getting half of the money. The guy was stupid enough to fight the divorce decree and that's when the embezzlement was discovered."
"Now he's facing five years in prison and the divorce judgment gave everything but the suspected funds to his wife," Blair finished as he and Jim shared a grin at the utter stupidity of the man.
William nodded in agreement as he lifted his glass of tea to his lips. It sounded like one hell of a stupid mistake, one he was all too familiar with when dealing with women. He opened his mouth to speak when he heard the door-knocker.
"Steven and Jamie," Jim said while he got to his feet. He let his father precede them as they headed toward the front door.
Blair sighed as he watched Jim and his father leave to greet Steven and Allison. He began to absent-mindedly pick up the dirty dishes and take them to the kitchen. His face was still slightly flushed from his earlier embarrassment. He didn't need to be there to greet Steven and it would give him a moment's peace for his rattled nerves.
Damn it! he hated this; having to watch what he said at home. It had been bearable when they only had to do it at the station, although the rings kinda put an end to even that worry. They however, had not changed their behavior at work, other than wearing the rings. This was just going to take some getting use to. 'Besides it was only for a month, right?' he consoled himself as he finished putting the dishes into the dishwasher and headed towards the front parlor where the others were.
"Hi Blair, thanks for doing this," Steven greeted, as the other man slowly entered the room and stood beside Jim.
A crease formed between Blair's eyebrows as he looked around, "Where's Allison?"
"She's up in her room, making sure I didn't forget anything that was on HER list."
"Oh Steven, tell me you didn't?" Blair asked, already knowing the answer.
"I felt guilty about leaving her so long, so I bought her a couple of things. A couple new playstation games, couple of new toys," Steven admitted shamefaced.
Any further conversation about the eight year old little girl was forestalled by her enthusiastic arrival. She jumped down the last three steps, using Jim to brace her landing.
"Jamie!" three men rebuked simultaneously at her dangerous antic while Blair just made a mental note to talk to her later.
"So, your highness, did your room meet with your approval?" Jim asked as he smiled indulgently down at the little blond girl.
Jamie nodded her head, "Yes, want to come see?"
"Later," Jim replied as he caught Steven's eyes.
Steven knelt down on one knee before his daughter. "Jamie, I've got to go. My plane leaves in two hours. Remember what we talked about and behave. I'm going to miss you, baby," Steven whispered as he gave his daughter a big hug, not wanting to let go.
"I'll be fine, Daddy." Jamie assured her father solemnly. "Remember my miniature Eiffel tower and my chocolates."
"I'll walk you out," Jim said, following his brother through the door.
"Have you eaten dessert?" Blair wanted to relieve some of the sadness he could see in the little girl's expression.
Jamie shook her head 'no.'
"Good, neither have we." Blair smiled brightly, catching William's eyes.
"That's right and I think we just might have some cake," William said taking the hint, as he gently took the little girl's hand and headed back to the kitchen.
"Maybe this isn't such a great idea," Steven muttered as he stood outside the limo.
Jim shook his head. "No, this deal is too important to your career Steven. Besides, she'll be fine. She'll have three grown men looking after her. I might not know much but I do know how to take care of someone, just look at Blair."
They both laughed at the joke.
"You'll call me?"
"I'll call you if she even stubs a toe," Jim promised, wondering how Steven got to be such a good father when they had such a rotten role model. He could see how much pain it was causing Steven to leave his little girl, even for just a little while.
Steven nodded and got into the car.
Jim watched the car drive away and stood silently enjoying the quiet darkness of the neighborhood. He turned around at the sound of the front door opening, feeling a sense of normalcy as he saw Sandburg silhouetted in the doorway. A smile broke out on his face at the happiness that filled him at the sight. The depth of the bond between them still had the power to amaze him.
"Hey," Blair said softly as he shut the door after Jim entered. "Everything okay?"
Jim just nodded as he leaned down and pressed his lips to Blair's. His tongue had just barely slipped between the full lips into the wonderful tasting heat when a sharp intake of breath disturbed them.
Blair kept his eyes on Jim's chest, thankful that his back was to Mr. Ellison. He didn't want to see the older man's expression.
Jim straightened up, his hold on Blair's arms preventing Sandburg's attempt to back away, as he met his father's eyes squarely over Blair's shoulders. He lifted his right eyebrow questioningly.
"Just wondering if you...and Blair were going to join Allison and me for dessert?" William offered in a stiff tone.
"Sounds good," Jim said with a swift glance down at his partner, "Right, Blair?"
Blair nodded his head as he followed Jim and his father into the dining room. This was going to be one hell of a long evening.
Blair accepted the plate with a piece of white cake on it from Jamie, smiling when the little girl apologized for putting it with the frost side down.
"It's all right, Allison. I don't like frosting anyway," he explained, avoiding looking in Mr. Ellison's direction.
"But I do, give me the corner," Jim ordered as he helped his niece cut his own piece which he rapidly devoured. "Pretty good. Where's it from, Dad?"
"The bakery over on Sixth and Parker, Del Florio's," William replied. "Allison was just telling me what she thinks she wants to ask Santa to bring her for Christmas."
"Christmas? But it's not even Halloween yet," Jim protested as he got himself another piece of cake.
"It'll be here sooner than you know it," Blair said, automatically handing his plate to Jim, who eagerly scraped off the leftover frosting.
"I told Grandpa that I think I want a new baseball glove because I wore out my old one. Maybe a new bat, too. A new bike..." the little girl's face was thoughtful as she pondered the very important task of naming her Christmas wish list. A sparkle caught her attention suddenly. "Oooo, how pretty, Blair. You have new earrings!" Jamie cried as she ran around to the other side of the table and lifted up the curly hair to get a better look.
A pained expression covered Blair's face as he was turned in William Ellison's direction. "They're sapphires, aren't they?" Jamie asked excitedly as she looked at her grandfather. "Grandpa, aren't they pretty?"
"Yes, they are," William said in a dry tone, recognizing that the earrings were worth quite a bit. "Where did you buy them, son?"
William turned to Blair, questioningly.
"They were a gift from a...friend," Blair explained, not really knowing what to call Brackett.
"I see," William said.
"I want some earrings like Blair's. Ones that match my eyes like his do," Jamie declared as she returned to her seat.
"We'll be sure to tell Santa," Jim remarked with a genuine smile on his face, belying the tension that existed in the room. "You want to go watch some tv?"
"Can I watch Lady and the Tramp?" Jamie asked eagerly.
"Sure, why don't you and Blair go get it started while Dad and I clean up here," Jim suggested as he gave a small nod to Sandburg.
"I don't think I've ever seen that movie. What's it about?" Blair was asking as he and the little girl left the room.
Jim didn't say anything as he piled the plates on top of one another and started into the kitchen with his father following.
"Do you think that you should be doing that...stuff so openly, Jim? What if Allison sees you? What is she going to think?" William asked as he put his dishes down in the sink.
"That we love each other," Jim replied calmly as he began rinsing off the dishes, not reacting to the pained expression he saw flicker across his father's face at his words. "I cleared it with Steven. He's okay with it."
"What?" William asked incredulously.
"Yes," Jim replied stiffly, the muscle in his cheek starting to twitch as it became difficult to control his rising anger. Steven had been much more understanding, surprisingly so, when he had offered to modify his behavior for his niece's sake. He was, after all the one who seemed to always be touching Blair. Steven had laughed and said it would be good for Jamie to see that two people in a relationship were capable of loving each other.
"God knows, she never saw Deidre and I do anything but fight, the first four and a half years of her life. You and Blair are good for her, Jim. Why do you think she begs for you to take care of her on the weekends when I work?"
Jim returned to the present at the sound of William Ellison clearing his throat.
"I guess it's okay then," he allowed, backing off the subject awkwardly. "I think I'll go out and join them in the den."
Jim nodded his head slightly as his father left. He exhaled deeply as he let the tension in his shoulders and neck relax. 'Maybe this wasn't such a good idea,' he thought as he released the death grip he had on a plate, surprised that it hadn't shattered under the pressure.
Jim's face become expressionless as he turned slightly in Blair's direction. "Fine."
Blair nodded, not really convinced but willing to let it go. He watched as Jim finished cleaning up the kitchen.
"Blair," Jim suddenly said in a lost tone, as he stood facing the sink as if he didn't know where the hell he was or why.
Blair moved instantly, gracefully sliding between Jim and the counter. "It's all right," he whispered against Jim's lips, before giving the older man an assuring kiss. "It's just going to take your father some time, Jim."
Jim snorted but still felt better as he looked down into the wise blue eyes.
"Let's go see what the mutt is up to," Jim said as he put his arm on Blair's shoulder and headed towards the den.
William Ellison tried not to show any of the discomfort he felt when his son entered with his arm draped over Blair. He kept his attention focused on the antics of the animated dogs on the television screen, exhaling slightly when the two men settled comfortably on the couch next to each other.
Curiosity filled him as he noticed that his son's hand instantly found it's place on the back of the couch behind Blair. Images flashed through his mind as he tried to remember once again, if there had been any indication that Jim was gay when he was growing up.
The shock he had felt when Jim told him he was involved with another man had rivaled the level of emotion he had felt when the Army contacted him to inform him that his eldest son was alive.
His gaze switched surreptitiously to the young handsome man who was currently smiling bemusedly down at Jim who had just sat down on the floor, next to his granddaughter to take a closer look at the book she was showing him.
Blair was handsome, some would even say pretty, with his blue eyes and facial features but he still couldn't understand how his son could find another man attractive. He tried to rub out the tension in his forehead as his thoughts went in circles for the thousandth time.
"Are you all right, Mr. Ellison?" Blair asked concerned at how tired Jim's father looked.
"I'm fine. It's just been a long day. I'm going up to bed."
"Night Grandpa," Jamie said as she saw her grandfather stand and walk towards the stairs.
"I'll lock up. Night, Dad."
William Ellison paused and turned back, just as he was about to leave the room. "I'm glad you're here...all of you."
The hesitate smile on his face brightened when his granddaughter rushed over and gave him an hug. "Thank you, Grandpa. For watching me."
"Anytime, my dear," William replied feeling a warmth in his heart for the little girl who could charm the truth out of the devil. The warm feeling lasted all the way to his room and as he settled himself in bed, hope filled him. His son was back where he belonged. Home.
"Allison asleep?" Blair asked without looking up as he heard Jim walk into the bedroom.
"Finally," Jim complained good-naturedly, as his eyes took in the wonderfully casual picture Sandburg made, sprawled out with his feet on his desk, reading. "Good book?" Jim asked in a nonchalant tone as he slowly walked to stand behind the younger man whose attention still hadn't wavered from the book.
"Uh-huh," Blair said distractedly as he turned the page. His attention soon faltered at the feel of a hand caressing the back of his head. He instinctively turned his head to the left, meeting Jim's hungry mouth for a slow deep kiss.
"Come to bed," Jim whispered as he drew back with a soft sigh.
Blair only nodded as he stood and put down the book, after marking his place. Jim started undressing in his usual methodical manner, and finished with taking the pile of clothes, along with the ones Sandburg tossed him to the hamper.
"Why am I always the one to get rid of the clothes?" Jim asked Blair, who was just getting into the bed, after turning off the bedroom light.
"Because it matters to you. I'd leave the clothes on the floor till morning," Blair said, his eyes absorbing the sight of the beautiful perfection of Jim's body as his lover made his way casually across the room to his side of the bed.
Blair instantly moved to the center of the bed as Jim slid under the sheets, Jim's arms immediately encircling him in warmth.
Jim looked down at the face, feeling only slightly guilty at using his senses to catalogue Blair's emotional state beneath the bantering tone. "Till morning, Chief?" Jim teased disbelievingly.
Blair couldn't help but chuckle, "Okay, it would be more like days later." Blair felt Jim's smile as he bent down and kissed him softly. He parted his lips, deepening the kiss. The slow exploration of his mouth by Jim's tongue, allowed him to relax for the first time that evening. He forgot everything but Jim. Drowsy blue eyes met Jim's as the kiss ended.
"Get some sleep, Chief." Jim whispered as he kissed the center of Blair's forehead, just as he had Jamie's earlier. He held Blair gently, immensely pleased with himself as he joined his partner in sleep.
Blair was humming along with the song playing softly on the built in radio above the kitchen sink, wondering which of the Ellison clan would be the first to appear. He was just turning over the simmering piece of toast in the skillet before it got too brown when his pondering was answered.
"Good morning!" the youngest member of the Ellison family cheerfully greeted as she scrambled onto one of the stools at the island bar.
"French toast. You do like french toast, don't you?"
Allison nodded her head enthusiastically, "Sure. Do you have any maple syrup?"
Blair placed the maple syrup within the little girl's reach after he placed her plate with two french toasts before her.
"Good?" Blair asked, with a smile on his face as he watched the little girl devour the food.
"Uh-huh," Allison mumbled between bites.
"What do you want to drink? Milk or Juice?" Blair asked as he placed two more slices of bread in the skillet for Jim.
Blair was pouring the little girl's glass of milk when he felt Jim enter the kitchen behind him. Jim walked into the kitchen while fastening the buttons of his shirt, playfully ruffling the little girl's hair and grinning at her dismayed "hey."
"French toast, okay?" Blair asked Jim, who had taken over cooking the bread in the skillet, as he handed Allison her milk.
"Yeah," Jim replied as he slid the french toasts to a plate and began eating. He lifted his eyebrows questioningly as he watched Blair take a sip of coffee.
"I already ate," Blair told him as he handed his coffee to Jim.
"Perfect," Jim replied after taking a drink. "Ready to go?" Jim asked the little girl who was finishing up her glass of milk.
Jamie nodded her head.
"Why don't you go brush your teeth. We'll be leaving in a few minutes," Blair suggested as he placed the skillet in the sink.
The little girl sped off.
"She makes me feel tired already and it's just the beginning of the day," Blair complained.
Jim snorted, "Now you know how I felt when a hyperactive guest came to stay at the loft for only a week, and I'm not talking about the monkey."
"Larry wasn't a monkey," Blair began. "He's a Barbary ape," the two men said simultaneously each smiling at the other. The kiss that followed was filled with laughter.
"I'll go tell Dad we're leaving."
Blair made sure the stove was off before exiting the kitchen. He ran into Allison on the stairs. "Did you finish that reading you had to do?" Blair asked as he passed her.
"Yes. Are we leaving now?"
"Yep, as soon as I get my bag," Blair replied as Jim appeared at the head of the stairs carrying Blair's bag and jacket.
"Here you go. Let's go guys," Jim called to the two of them as he strode down the stairs ushering them along. The detective was in good spirits all the way to the Elizabeth Barrett Elementary School, listening intently to the little girl's chatter.
"Either me, Blair or Grandpa will pick you up at 2:45, Jamie. Don't go with anyone else, understood," Jim ordered the little girl as she got out of the truck.
"Yes, sir," Jamie said as she saluted before bursting out laughing at the wink that Blair gave her from behind Jim's back. Jim turned to Blair as he got back into the truck, after the little girl had disappeared through the doors.
"When did you two cook that up?"
Blair just shrugged innocently, "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Right," Jim said dryly as he put the truck in drive and headed towards the station, wondering if it was such a good idea for two people who thought so much alike to be constantly around each other for a month. 'Dad and I are in trouble.'
"So how's Jamie doing?" Jim casually asked as they passed the street of the "Sweet" Roy Gym that the young man owned and operated on their way to the station.
"Fine. The gym is doing well. Sharita and him are thinking about having a baby."
Jim didn't even acknowledge that Blair had spoken, since he wasn't really interested in hearing about the latest happenings in the Williams' family. The young man's "private chat" with Blair, however, was another matter which his intelligent lover knew damn well.
Blair sighed at Jim's pointed silence. "He asked if I was with you."
"He took it pretty well. Said it answered some questions he had about me and...Roy," Blair reluctantly added.
"Really. That's good," Jim said nonchalantly, although his hands noticeably tightened on the steering wheel. "What were you reading so intently last night?"
"Trauma of the mind. It talks about how emotional trauma affects the human brain physically. It's really fascinating how behaviors do in fact become habits associated with physical pathways in the brain."
"Right," Jim said dryly as they pulled into the underground parking garage.
"It explains why it is so hard to change ingrained behaviors, Jim. Like addictions."
"I like my addictions, Chief," Jim teased, meeting Blair's eyes in a knowing look.
Blair tilted his head in acknowledgement as he followed Jim into the elevator, chuckling softly. "Noted."
"Twelve-thirty?" Jim asked as he stepped out of the elevator when it reached the seventh floor.
"Sounds good, I'll meet you at your desk," Blair replied as he continued down the hallway towards the office he used for counseling sessions.
Blair sauntered into Major Crime, looking casually around at all the activity. He stopped at Rhonda's desk.
"Do you have that breakdown of my client list, Rhonda?"
Rhonda nodded as she reached over and pulled a folder out from under the top two. "Going to lunch?"
"Yeah, seen Jim around?"
"He's out on a case."
"When did he go out?"
"About forty-five minutes ago," she said before she was interrupted by her phone ringing.
"Thanks," Blair mouthed as he held up the folder before walking away towards Ellison's desk. He had only been sitting down for a few minutes reviewing the top case file he found sitting on Jim's desk when the phone rang.
"I'm not going to make lunch, Chief."
"I figured, do you need me?"
"Nah, it's just a routine homicide. I'll see you later."
"Okay." Blair hung up the phone and closed the file he was reading, looking up as the Captain entered the bullpen. "Hey Simon, wanna join me for lunch?"
"Jim bail on you?" Simon asked as he nodded 'yes.'
"Let me get my coat," Simon said as he dropped a half dozen files on various detective's desks.
"I'll meet you at the elevators."
Blair was standing by the elevators reading the notices on the message board to the right of the elevators when a "Blair" caught his attention.
He turned to find a man who was taller than Jim standing behind him. "Yes? Lieutenant...Thompson, isn't it?" Blair dimly remembered being introduced to the man at some police barbecue during the past summer.
"Stuart Thompson. SWAT. I've been wanting to talk to you," Thompson informed him as he drew closer to the younger man out of the direct traffic of the busy hallway.
Sandburg's forehead creased. "I'll be happy to make an appointment for you to discuss any concern you might be having," he began.
"No not for counseling," Thompson assured him with a slight smile. "I was wondering if you'd like to go to dinner tomorrow night?"
Flabbergasted was too tame a word for what Blair was experiencing as the words made it through his stunned consciousness. Sucker punched. He thought everyone knew about him and Jim. Hell it had made the rounds of the station within two hours that he and Jim were wearing matching black and gold bands on their left ring fingers.
"Aah, no. I wouldn't. I'm in a committed relationship," Blair said, as he wished that Simon would show up and get him out of this.
"Yeah, with Ellison. But I hear that you still date other people."
"What? Where did you hear this?" Blair asked getting angry.
"Around, you know how people talk."
'Yes. I do,' Blair thought bitterly at the gossipmongers. "You heard wrong. I'm with Ellison, end of story."
"Right," Thompson said with a clearly disbelieving expression on his rugged face. "If you change your mind, call me," he arrogantly told him as he handed his card to Blair, who reluctantly accepted it only because he saw Simon watching them.
"What was that all about?" Simon asked as he walked into the elevator, pressing the button to hold the doors open for Sandburg and two women to get in.
"Nothing," Blair said uncomfortably as he stuffed the jerk's card in his pocket. "How about we try the new seafood place that just opened up?"
"Sounds good," Simon replied, his brown eyes thoughtful as he took in Sandburg's tense expression. It certainly didn't look like nothing. "How are things going at the ol' man's place?"
"Ask me after a couple of more days," Blair said laughingly, pushing the incident with Thompson to the back of his mind. "What about you? How are things going with Amy?"
"Pretty good..." Simon admitted with a smile, "I'm thinking of asking her to move in with me."
"That's great!" Blair exclaimed as they walked through the parking garage, happy that Simon's relationship with the pretty nurse he had met in the hospital finally seemed to working out after a rocky start.
Both men were in high spirits as they returned to Major Crime after lunch. Blair tossed the bag he was carrying to Jim, who effortlessly caught it while sitting at his desk.
"Shrimp?" Jim asked with a disgruntled expression.
"Yeah, you'll like it," Blair assured his partner as he propped himself on the corner of Ellison's desk. "What's up?"
"Witness statements for a homicide. The boyfriend confessed, we just need to clear up some of the specifics."
"What do you need for me to do?"
"Type out the statements we already got, while I go process him," Jim said, gesturing to the cassette tapes that were sitting on his desk, next to a recorder.
"Sure," Blair replied as he took Jim's place as his lover stood up.
The rest of the afternoon went by quickly as they finished closing the homicide case, which sadly fit Jim's all too accurate definition of "routine."
"I know we've had these type of cases before, but I still don't understand how someone thinks they have the right to kill their girlfriend or boyfriend because they're leaving them. Some solution," Blair was saying, as they walked towards Jim's truck.
Jim just shrugged. "There is no real answer, Chief."
"Yeah, I know," Blair replied as he got into the passenger side, "it's just such a damn waste."
"You told Dad to pick up Jamie, right?" Jim shot a questioning glance in Blair's direction as he started the truck and began driving.
"Yeah, around two. Why?"
"Did he say anything about dinner?"
"He said he was going to pick something up," Blair replied as he really looked at his lover. "Are you all right?"
"Just tired," Jim stated as he rubbed the back of his neck with his right hand.
"I still owe you that massage."
"That's right," Jim said with a sly smile as he glanced to his right at Blair.
"It's a date," Jim stated firmly.
"Aaaaaaaaa," Jim groaned as his shoulder muscles relaxed under Blair's talented ministrations.
Blair smiled as he felt the surface tension leave the body he was currently straddling. He started focusing his attention on rubbing out the knot he could feel in Jim's lower back muscles, luxuriating in the smooth skin that glistened with hot oil as he slid his hands up and down the small of Jim's back.
He made a fist and pressed down on the knot with more of his body weight, pleased when the muscle started to loosen. Blair started rotating his knuckles slowly over the spasm, pleased to hear Jim emit another groan.
"Yeah, press harder."
Blair followed directions and the muscle finally relaxed. He set the palm of his hands on Jim's waist and pressed firmly down as he slid them back up and then down all the way to rest on Jim's buttocks.
His eyes flicked to Jim's half-turned face as he began to lightly caress the muscular cheeks. Even though Blair made no move toward the crease, he could feel that Jim was expecting him to. He slide his hands back up the beautiful back, as he laid down on top of Jim.
Pleasure filled Blair as Jim seemed to relax even more at the feel of Blair's chest pressing against his back and more importantly at the relatively unfamiliar feel of Blair's cock resting against his buttocks.
Blair rubbed his grizzled cheek against the top of Jim's left shoulder like a cat.
"What's wrong?" Blair asked, it had been a sad sigh not a relaxing one. Like Jim had something on his mind.
"It's just strange...seeing Pop with Jamie. Volunteering to help her with her homework. Who would have believed it?" Jim said in an amazed tone.
Blair hadn't thought anything of it when Mr. Ellison had nonchalantly sat down with Allison at the kitchen table while she did her math homework after dinner. He had gotten the impression that it was an everyday occurrence for them.
"I take it your dad didn't help you much?"
Jim snorted as he moved slightly, flexing his back before settling down again. "The one time I asked for the ol' man's help, he spent the evening on the phone talking to Tokyo after telling me that you shouldn't ask for anyone's help. That you could only depend on yourself."
"How old were you?" Blair asked softly hoping that the question wouldn't stop Jim's talkative mood.
Blair closed his eyes tightly feeling the pain that the little boy must have felt at another rejection by his father.
"It's like I'm looking at another person."
"You are," Blair said as he ran his hand through Jim's hair comfortingly. "He's had over twenty years to think about the mistakes he made. He seems determined to not make the same mistakes he made with you, with Allison. You never told me how he handled the news of her sentinel abilities."
The laugh Jim gave, held no amusement whatsoever. "He had already suspected that she was like me. He told me that if he had been sure that he would have come to me for help, even though we hadn't spoken in years. Irony, you've got to love it."
Blair said nothing as he ran his fingers thru Jim's hair. There was nothing to stay. It was up to Jim and his father to heal the open wounds between them. He listened intently as he heard Jim succumb to sleep. Blair carefully removed himself from the bed, being sure not to waken his lover as he quietly slipped out of the bedroom.
It was early yet and he felt too restless to go to bed. He quickly pulled on his shirt as he walked down the hall. Blair knew it had something to do with the incident earlier today and finding out about the rumors. He had planned on asking Jim what he had been hearing with his heightened senses about them at the station but it didn't seem right when Jim was already uptight enough without hearing that a fellow cop had made a pass at him today. He'd bring it up with Jim, tomorrow on the way to work.
He sat on the top step as he put on the shoes that he had carried with him from the bedroom. Blair stood silently in the doorway of the den, with his hands through the hooks of his slacks as he took in the picture before him.
Mr. Ellison was asleep in his recliner while Allison was lying flat on the floor, coloring.
Allison looked up at the figure standing in the doorway, immediately turning up her hearing to hear Blair's whispered words.
"I'm going to the grocery store. Do you need anything else besides what you already told me earlier?"
Allison shook her head silently 'no.'
"Bed in thirty minutes," Blair softly told her, before he turned away and headed towards the front door.
The coolness of the night was pleasant as he walked to his car. It didn't take him long to buy the few but necessary items which were on the grocery list, and one not so necessary item. He hoped that she like the little black plastic horse he had bought which came complete with a removable bridle and saddle. He shook his head chagrined. He was just as bad as the rest of them when it came to spoiling Allison.
Blair set the bags down quietly wondering if everyone was asleep in the dark house. He had just returned to the kitchen after quickly going upstairs to check on the little girl. The slight tension that had filled him dissipating as he saw the blond girl snuggled asleep in her bed. He walked slowly back down the stairs, surprised at the bright lights now on in the kitchen.
"I can do that," Blair said, as he entered the kitchen to see Jim's father putting up the groceries.
"You unload, while I put away."
"Sure," Blair agreed easily falling in beside the elderly man, as he was so use to doing with Jim.
"You went upstairs?" William asked, already knowing the answer. The one thing he had realized about Blair Sandburg was that he cared about people, especially his son.
Blair nodded. "Allison's sound asleep."
"She's a good girl."
"Yeah, she is."
"You love my son, don't you?"
Blair sighed as he concentrated on taking out the various items from the brown paper bag in front of him. "Yes," he stated simply as he turned and handed a head of lettuce out to the older man while squarely meeting the sober blue eyes. "I'd do anything for him."
Blair shrugged. That was all in the past.
"The dissertation was very well-written. Well worth a Nobel prize. Don't you miss it?"
"What? The fame?" Blair asked with a slight edge in his voice.
"Anthropology. Teaching about the new cultures you've discovered traveling around the world," William corrected him in a reasonable tone.
"No, not really. I spent every spare moment since I was 18 doing just that, looking for a Sentinel. Well I found him, and it wasn't in the jungle. Not that that was what made me fall in love with your son. Jim...Jim is special. Even if it wasn't for his senses, I would have been drawn to him. He is the most honorable man I've ever met," Blair said, suddenly realizing what he had just revealed. To Jim's father for god's sake.
"Besides I'm still an anthropologist. I've just shifted my focus to forensic anthropology," he said, switching to a more comfortable subject.
"How is that going?" William asked sounding just as relieved about the change in topic.
"Great. It's basically what I use to do out in the middle of the desert, or the jungle, only now I get to do it in an air conditioned lab."
"Jim was telling me that you recently identified the killer in an unsolved case."
"More like I identified the victim. There were only so many woman who fit the description I was able to deduce from the skeletal remains. When it became evident that whoever killed her had some sort of medical training, it was relatively easy to narrow the list down to a woman who had been reported missing a couple of years ago, by her husband, who was a chiropractor. Sorry, that was probably more than you wanted to know," Blair finished sheepishly.
"It's all right, I'm glad that you enjoy your work with my son. That you aren't resentful for your loss."
"I gained much more than I lost, Mr. Ellison," Blair assured him, his eyes meeting William's steadily.
William gave a slight nod, uncomfortable with the emotion that shone clearly in the man's blue eyes. He slipped his hands in his pockets, "Good night, Blair."
"Good night," Blair returned, slightly startled at the quiet yet abrupt end to the conversation as he watched the other man slowly leave the kitchen. His expression was thoughtful as he made his way up the stairs, after turning off the lights and checking that the doors were locked.
Jim stretched, delighted to discover a naked bundle of warmth in his arms. He looked down at the masculine beauty of Blair, wondering once again how he lucked out. His arms tightened reflexively. 'He hadn't managed to drive Blair away, yet,' he thought absently as he placed a kiss on the top of Blair's shoulder.
He moved his hand to lay flat against Blair's stomach as he pressed his face into the mass of wild sable curls. Blair had become hesitant about initiating sex since the kidnapping, maybe he had wanted it last night. This morning might be a different story.
The curls caressed the right side of his face as Jim lightly nuzzled the upper part of Blair's neck just underneath the grizzled jaw feeling the instant when Blair awoke. He moved away putting a some distance between their bodies, unsure about Blair's receptiveness when at the same time Blair raised his top leg up to rest his heel on the bed, indicating his willingness although his eyes were still closed.
"Jim," he softly breathed, making Jim harden at the sound.
'Shit!' Jim thought frustratedly, determined not to lose complete contact with the body lying on its side in front of him, as he reached behind to open the drawer of the nightstand for the lube and a condom. He should have stashed them in one of the pillows like they do at home.
He tore open the condom and put it on him, amusedly remembering that 'the supplies' were one of the first things he had unpacked when they moved in. He lavishly coated himself with lube before settling back into his previous position spooned up behind Blair.
Blair's hand covered his as he grasped Blair's hips firmly. Jim returned to eagerly kissing and nuzzling Blair's neck, the pleasure increasing as Blair pressed himself even closer to him. He positioned himself and began pressing inside with a slow insistent pressure as he reached down to encircle Blair's cock in a gel-slicked hand.
Jim sighed as he slid inside after only a slight resistance, his muscles flexing as he automatically paused for a second while he shifted the angle slightly to allow him as deep inside as he could get.
Blair exhaled quietly, enjoying the closeness. The stillness.
His hand moved to grasp Jim's hip, clutching reflexively when Jim began to lazily stroke in and out of him. Wonderful tension rose in Blair as Jim slowly stroked his dick in time to the cock thrusting inside of him.
Languid, wet kisses distracted Blair while escalating the blissful feeling of being as close to Jim as possible. Blair's hand reached up to grab Jim's head, tenderness flooding him as Jim immediately kissed the palm of his hand.
"Blair," Jim breathed as he sucked on the sapphire studded earlobe, happiness coursing through his soul. Jim's orgasm was the lost in the sight of the deep blue eyes which finally opened to reveal a love, which unbeknownst to Jim was mirrored in his own eyes.
Blair had turned his head wanting a real kiss from Jim, opening his eyes at last to meet Jim's. He pressed his lips to Jim's, thrusting his tongue into the Jim's hot mouth wondering why there were tears in Jim's eyes. Blair began to give small quick kisses all along Jim's mouth, comfortingly.
Jim gently caught the teasing lips, deepening the kiss. Blair came instantly from the combined talent of the tongue brushing against his and the emotion shining from the light blue eyes.
The kissing continued long after their bodies had separated.
Blair sighed happily as he rested his head against Jim's chest. "Good morning," he laughed.
"A very good morning, Chief." Jim's chest rose and fell with a soft chuckle. His arm tightened around Blair. "Let's stay in bed."
"What about Allison?" Blair asked although he thought it was an excellent idea.
"Dad can take her to school. I want to enjoy our day off," Jim responded, pulling Blair up to him for another kiss.
"Works for me," Blair whispered before his mouth become too busy for speech.
Jim was closing the oven door when he heard his father come home.
"Blair's car is gone, did he go to work?" William asked as he walked into the kitchen.
"No, he remembered he had a doctor's appointment this afternoon," Jim replied as he took a drink from his beer and leaned against the counter.
"Is he sick?"
"No. Just a regular appointment."
"What are you cooking?" William asked sitting down at the kitchen table.
"Cinnamon rolls," Jim shrugged, "I have a craving for sugar and since Blair's not here to bug me about eating them, I thought I'd go ahead and make them for us."
William rubbed his forehead tiredly. "I've been going over it in my mind ever since you told me about you and Blair," he said as he stared down at the tabletop. "I've been trying to remember if I did anything, if I saw...You've been attracted to men since you were a child, I take it?" William said, not really asking. The books he had been reading which dealt with having a gay son all said that most men realize they prefer men rather than women from a young age.
Jim's eyes narrowed suspiciously, but he decided to answer the question honestly.
"Not really," Jim admitted in a reluctant tone as he joined his father at the kitchen table but keeping his gaze on the rosebush he could see blooming through the window. "I was attracted to women, growing up. Still am, in fact. I mean I can appreciate a beautiful woman," Jim quickly amended, not wanting to give his father the wrong impression.
"You didn't MISS anything, Dad, at least not about that." Resentment made his face tense as he remembered all the repeated attempts to please the man before him always met with failure. "Blair's different. Even at his most annoying, I liked him," he explained with a bemused expression warming his face. "No matter what I threw at him, he stuck around."
William nodded, understanding that Blair had given Jim what he had failed to give him.
"The attraction came later," Jim said meeting his father's eyes challengingly. "Although not much later, though I tried to deny it. Did deny it for four and a half years."
"He's a good man. Loyal."
"Too goddamn loyal, sometimes," Jim muttered roughly as he stood up to check on the rolls, although he knew with his senses that they were far from ready.
"What happened to him?" William asked, recognizing the all too familiar tense set of his son's shoulders as Jim peeked in the oven.
Jim closed the oven door firmly and walked over to stand before the sink, away from his father. "I told you he was kidnapped," he said casually as he walked over to stare out the bay window.
"No, there's something different. Something missing. His eyes aren't as bright as they once were."
Jim squeezed his eyes shut, wanting to deny his father's words, although he had noticed the same thing. Pain filled him. "He was raped," Jim whispered.
"The forgotten appointment?"
Jim nodded, "His therapist."
A chill entered William's heart at his son's words. He stared into the ice blue eyes fully realizing for the first time what his eldest was, what he was capable of, had been in fact trained to be by the Army, and by him. Death stared at him without conscience.
"I'm back!" Blair called.
William watched amazed at the transformation. No sign of the killer which lurked within his son was detectable in the eyes which instantly warmed at the sight of the young curly-haired man who entered the kitchen.
"Am I interrupting something?" Blair hesitantly asked, instantly picking up on the tension in the room.
"No, of course not, Blair. Join us," William invited.
Blair raised his eyebrows as he walked towards the oven. "Cinnamon rolls?"
Jim shrugged innocently, "Jamie mentioned something about liking them. Right, Dad?"
William started slightly at the question, since he had been so intently watching his son. Jim's whole body had relaxing indescribably with Blair's entrance, becoming more open, even approachable. "Allison hates cinnamon," he said distractedly.
"Well, no sense in them going to waste," Jim tried again to save face.
"Uh-huh. Right," Blair said in wise tone, unable to stop the sly wink he gave Mr. Ellison as he lifted himself up to sit on the counter. "That's why I bought them last night, Detective. And specifically left them in the front of the refrigerator," his blue eyes twinkling as he teased Jim.
"Know-it-all," Jim muttered as he stepped between the parted legs and placed a kiss on the laughing mouth.
Blair stiffened only slightly as he saw out of the corner of his eyes that Mr. Ellison was laughing as well.
"I hope you're not letting them burn," Blair said as he pushed Jim slightly away as he jumped down. "I've been thinking about how good they're going to taste since I left." Blair grabbed a glass and expertly maneuvered around Jim at the stove, as he poured some milk, before walking to join William at the table. "What are you going to have with your roll?" Blair asked him.
William just shook his head, his mouth still in a smile as he watched one of the most intricate dances he had ever seen. "Milk will be fine." Disbelief filled him as he realized even more as he continued to watch the two men interact with the ease of complete familiarity as if they were two parts of the same whole.
Which they were, William realized. His admiration grew even more for the pleasant talkative man. He had no doubt that Blair was very cognizant of his son's darker nature, but he accepted it unconditionally. Grounding Jim, tempering the coldness with cheerful humanity.
"Dad, how much syrup do you want on your roll?" Jim asked all sign of the other man gone as if it had all been a figment of someone's demented imagination.
"That's enough, thank you Jim," William said, not just referring to the cinnamon roll.
"You're welcome," Jim solemnly replied while Blair looked on confused, wondering what he had missed.
The next couple of days passed uneventfully, although they did end up working through the weekend. The only dark spot was when Blair finally told Jim about Thompson on the way home from the station, late Saturday night.
Jim's reaction dumbfounded Blair. Ellison pretty much shrugged it off, or at least appeared to.
"It's to be expected, what with your reputation."
One of the first things that Jim had learned when his heightened senses came back after the stakeout in the woods was exactly how many closeted homosexuals there were on the police force and who everyone was screwing, gay or straight.
The speculation about Sandburg's orientation was a hot topic among both sexes. His dating more than half the single women in just the first year of helping Jim with his senses had placed Blair's sexual prowess in the thoughts and conversations of many. With Blair's bi-sexual status now confirmed with the rings, it only stood to reason.
Jim had kept an "ear" out since they 'came out' as a couple, wanting to be prepared so he could protect Blair from any harm, physical or emotional. He had been enraged at some of the homophobic crap that he'd heard come out of his fellow officer's mouths.
That they should have known that "Sandburg's the type that will screw anything that moves." "Don't you know, faggots are up for sex anytime, with anyone." "I wonder what parks Sandburg cruises in." "Didn't know Ellison was into pretty boys. Got himself a rent boy--cheap."
However, Blair hadn't been in any danger and he definitely wasn't ready to hear how his reputation had broadened. No one had acted on their words, gay or straight--until now.
Thompson, however hadn't been one of the half a dozen men that Jim knew were interested in Blair. All he knew about the Swat leader was that he was a good cop.
"MY reputation! You've GOT to be kidding me? You've had more one-night stands..."
"Maybe, but I didn't have them with half of the women at the station, Romeo," Jim stated effectively ending the conversation since Blair was left speechless, wanting to strangle Jim for taking the situation so lightly. Something warning Blair that the gossip about them was going to cause a whole lot of problems.
William smiled as he heard Blair encouraging his fellow teammates in the impromptu football game to go long so they could beat the "old timers." The dozen or so men had quickly divided into two teams based on age when the idea of playing came up. A couple of the college boys who were visiting their parents ran into Blair and Jim out at the nearby park as they played frisbee with his granddaughter. A game was suggested and more teammates were quickly gathered.
Subsequently, William was torn between cheering for Blair on one team while his son was on the other. His attention switched to the little boy who came up running on his left asking no one in particular what the score was and getting several different answers.
"No one knows the score, Grandpa," Allison declared, with a confused expression on her face.
"It's not important. They're only playing for fun," William replied as he following the play. Jim's team had just managed to recover the ball.
"But how do you know whose winning?" Allison asked concerned.
"It doesn't matter who wins."
"The coaches at school say that winning is the only thing that matters," Allison told him.
"Well they're wrong, Allison. Having fun and enjoying yourself is what really matters," William said seriously as he looked into the little girl's light blue eyes. "Understand?"
Jim stood dazed. He had lost sight of the ball as he eavesdropped on his father's conversation with Jamie. Amazed at the words he never thought he would ever hear coming from the ol' man's mouth.
His focus returned to the game in time to see Sandburg intercept the ball and began running. It took little effort with a little burst of speed to easily tackle Blair, laughing as he did so.
"Got you," Jim grunted as he grabbed Sandburg pulling him down and twisting so that it was him that landed on the ground, cushioning Blair's body from the hard impact.
Blair laughed although he realized that he had dropped the ball.
"Go Jimmy!" Jim distantly heard.
"What were you saying about being too old too run, Junior?" Jim crowed as he sat, pushing Blair up before he stood beside him with a wide grin. His side clearly the winner.
"Yeah, yeah," Blair replied laughing.
"Hey guys, whose up for some food at Charlie's?" Jim called out to the guys milling around them slapping each other on the back.
Several "sounds pretty good", and "meet you there" followed as everyone broke up making their way to their respective cars.
"You were great, Uncle Jim!" Jamie cried as she ran up and embraced her Uncle.
Jim smiled as he hugged the little girl back. His arm instantly reaching up to pull Blair closer to him as they continued to walk towards home with Blair on one side and Jamie on the other.
"Good game, Jim," William said as the two men walked up to him.
"Thanks, Dad," Jim said, realizing that the past was just that--past. It felt good to let go.
Author's Addendum: I know that there are some unresolved issues in the story, the big one being Jim and Blair's developing sexual relationship into "new" territory. The story would be too long to adequately address this topic as I wish to, so that will be in another one. Remember that the only way I, as a fanfiction writer even know that people care or are in fact reading my stories is through feedback. This is not really a demand for feedback just a statement of fact, if you will.
Title of the story is from the phase, "The healing hands of time."