A Ruined Evening - Lyn
These are the delicacies of a ruined evening.
Blair stared at the dishes on the table, the food only half eaten, wine glasses still partly full. It was 3AM and he really didn't feel like cleaning up, wanting nothing more than to just go back to bed, pull the blankets over his head and pretend that tonight had never happened. But by the morning, the food would be dried on the plates, as unappetizing as the evening's events had become, and he really didn't need a reminder of how quickly a romantic evening could go sour.
He'd thought he was doing the right thing. He'd known Jim had been pissed about him going over his head to Simon and volunteering to go undercover in the back alleys of Cascade in an attempt to bring down a killer but Blair couldn't see any way around it.
"Come on, Jim," Blair pleaded, "two weeks, eight victims, and," he tugged at a lock of his curly hair, "I'm the perfect match."
Jim scowled at him. "That's what bothers me, Chief." He gave Simon a withering glare. "I can't believe you're even suggesting this, sir. You're usually the first one to remind Sandburg he's not a cop."
Simon bristled visibly and opened his mouth, but before he could say a word, Blair jumped in. "Didn't seem to be a problem when you needed someone to get close to Maya."
The guilt on Jim's face was enough to stop Blair's diatribe before it even got started. "Sorry," he muttered. He reached out and squeezed Jim's arm. "That was a low blow. But, Jim, there's no time left. This guy is escalating. Two murders in the last fourteen hours! And I can't think of anyone else in the entire PD who matches the targets." He looked earnestly at Jim. "Let me do this. I won't let you down, and you'll be right there, ready to grab the son of a bitch."
"What if I'm too late?" Jim asked. "After Lash…" His words trailed off. He shook his head and strode over to the window, staring out at the night sky.
Blair walked over and stood beside him. "I trust you," he said, "and you have got to trust me… and yourself."
Jim didn't answer for a long moment then he finally turned to Blair and nodded. Blair smiled but Jim held up a cautioning hand. "Don't get too eager, Sandburg. If we do this, we do it my way."
"When have we done anything else?" Blair said, smiling to take the sting from his words. He turned to Simon. "Let's do it."
And it had gone down well. Blair had caught the killer's eye, Jim had been there right on time, just as the bastard had pulled his knife. Blair hadn't even had time to feel really scared. Shaken, yes, though his faith in Jim had remained absolute.
He'd finished his statement in record time, left Jim to finish the arrest report and headed home to create what he knew was a much needed relaxing, romantic dinner for the two of them. Just the thing to calm the waters, put things fully back to rights. Jim might see the wisdom and sense in Blair's actions, but he was the cop, he was the one who called the shots, and Blair knew more often than not, Jim's instincts were spot on.
"Don't be too long, man," he admonished Jim as he grabbed his jacket. "Roast beef does not sit well for hours."
Jim smiled at him – finally. "Be there in an hour, Chief. I'll bring a bottle of wine."
It had started so well and gone downhill like a rollercoaster. They'd cuddled in front of the fire while the beef finished cooking, then sat down with filled plates and a good bottle of wine.
Jim tilted his glass to Blair in a toast. "You did good out there tonight, Chief."
Blair raised his own glass in a salute. "Well, thank you." He sensed the 'but' before it was spoken. Sighing, he put his glass on the table. "Go on."
"I sense a but in there," Blair said. He poked at his salad, his appetite already waning.
"Okay." Jim nodded. "Since when did you not trust my judgement?"
Blair gaped at him. "What? Never." He sighed. "Jim, that's not the issue here –"
"Isn't it?" Jim sat back from the table, his body tense. "I told you it wasn't safe for you to put yourself out there as a target."
"It worked out fine." Blair patted his chest. "See? No holes. No blood."
Jim glared at him. "It's not a joke, Sandburg."
Blair's smile faltered. "I know that, man. But this wasn't about not trusting your judgment. It was about knowing what had to be done before anyone else died."
Jim pushed away his barely touched plate and stood. "And what happens the next time?" He stared at Blair, his hands fisted on his hips. "You going to go over my head every time you feel like playing cop?"
Blair's face heated. He stood and glared back at Jim. "That's not fair! Why does it always have to be you calling the shots anyway?" He crossed his arms over his chest. "How long have I been riding with you now, studying not just you but all the cops you work with? Are you saying we just go back to where we were when we first met? Me helping you with your senses? You know I can't do that without getting involved in your job!"
"Being involved doesn't mean disobeying orders," Jim shot back hotly.
Blair's mouth opened and closed a few times soundlessly, uncharacteristically lost for words. "Orders? You're giving me orders. I thought we were partners."
"We are, but there still has to be a clear chain of command. You know that. Someone has to make the decisions and seeing I'm the cop here, that someone would be me."
"You gonna start ordering me to clean my room?"
"After seeing the state of your room lately, it might not be a bad idea." If there was a hint of amusement in Jim's tone, Blair missed it.
"Fine," he ground out. "Maybe it's time I looked for somewhere else to live. Maybe it's time I went back to the university full time. Safe enough for you, Jim? Oh, wait," he held up a finger, "I seem to remember a little asshole from Rainier having me beaten up. Ah, but, hey, Ellison the supercop rode to the rescue, didn't he?"
"You're out of line, Sandburg!" Jim's voice was low, barely controlled.
Blair forged on, his anger increasing with every word he uttered. "You gonna spank me?"
"For gods sake, Chief…" Jim took a step toward Blair, who backed off, both hands up as though warding off his lover's approach.
"Just forget it, Jim. This argument is going nowhere." He looked down at his dinner congealing on his plate. "I'm not hungry!" He stormed toward his old room. "I'm going to bed."
Only he hadn't slept, knew he wouldn't. The angry words he'd spat at Jim kept circling endlessly in his head and beneath it all, he knew Jim was right. Knew too, that Jim was doing it because he loved him.
Frustrated, he climbed out of bed and walked out into the living room. Looking up, he could just see Jim's head through the railing. He wondered if he was sleeping. Turning back to the table with a sigh, he started cleaning up.
He filled the sink with water and added the dish soap, mindlessly going through the motions. He reached out to place a wineglass on the drainer but it was taken carefully from his hand. "Go back to bed, Jim," he said tiredly. "I can manage."
"I know you can," Jim said, "but I helped make the mess. I'll help clean it up."
Blair glanced at him, certain Jim wasn't talking just about the dishes. As if confirming his thoughts, Jim smiled then reached in and gently kissed his cheek. "I'm sorry."
Blair shook his head. "Don't be. You were right. I was just too stubborn to see it."
"I'll try to listen to you more. I'm not saying my way is the only way. I just want to keep you safe."
Blair turned to face Jim and wrapped his arms around his waist, resting his head on Jim's chest. "And if you say no, I won't go over your head to Simon," he pledged. He pressed a kiss to Jim's chest. "Wanna leave the dishes till morning?"
"Why not," Jim said, smiling down at him.
"Let's go to bed."
"Upstairs?" Jim asked, placing a kiss on Blair's lips.
"Upstairs," Blair agreed, returning the gesture.
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Acknowlegements: Many thanks to Margaret for the inspiration and to Annie as always for the beta and her support.