Let There Be Love - Mererid
Even though they had both apologized, and had discussed that they needed to work on communication in their relationship, they still weren't talking to each other. Not easily. Blair still felt that Jim hadn't really and truly accepted their relationship, that they were lovers, that they were gay. His,
"Well, it's Blair. You know?" The 'ha ha' look, and "I just couldn't fight him anymore."
How insulting was that? And yes, he was trying to let go of the anger, but it really burned. In one sentence Jim belittled him, denied being gay, and made fun of their relationship. He had tried to express his feelings about it, but Jim hadn't listened, he had just kept nodding and saying "okay" as he chopped up vegetables for the stew. Blair had finally given up, walking off to finish wrapping Christmas presents because it was just easier and he needed some mindless to do.
His mom had said he needed to meditate on it. Really think about it.
"Talk to your spirit guide, honey. Accept the fact that you might have to let go of Jim."
He had called her while Jim had gone off to run errands over to his dad's.
"I don't want to let go of him. That's what we've struggled so hard over this last year. We're miserable apart." He was on the verge of losing his patience with the universe, and he definitely wasn't going to go all wifey and cry-baby on Jim.
"And what?" He practically snapped at her.
"Baby, sounds to me that you two are miserable together." She had offered only murmurings of love and support, and then had to get going.
Sure, leave your son devastated and wiped out. No worries there, Mom.
They watched a movie after dinner, but Blair had focused more on reading a criminal psychology journal, and taking notes for his certification class. Even though they sat side by side on the couch, they didn't touch. There were no foot massages or back rubs or making out.
It had been nearly two weeks since the last time they had any sexual contact. The kiss under the mistletoe at Connor's party had been as stiff and uninspiring as if they had kissed complete strangers.
Christmas Eve tomorrow, and they had a busy schedule ahead of them. Lunch at Simon's house with some of his family, and a selection of friends from work. Dinner was scheduled at Jim's dad's house after the family group attended church together for the first time since Jim's wedding to Carolyn. Blair was nervous about that, thinking of the implications, and trying not to put their relationship on par with Jim and Carolyn's.
About 2:00am Blair couldn't stand it any longer, and got up out of bed. That only signaled that either he was sick or greatly moved by emotion.
Jim, who wasn't asleep either, asked, "You okay?"
"Just fine." Blair snapped, grabbing Jim's old bathrobe. "I'm going to meditate."
Jim hadn't followed him or quizzed him further.
Blair got his iPod, turned on his relaxation tunes, stripped, and sat in front of the Christmas tree. He stared at it for a long time. Jim hadn't wanted a tree, but Blair had brought a real one home anyway. He was careful about the ornaments, and there was only a minimum of lights and decorations. A month ago, he had planned a fantastic tree with a ton of ornaments. Every inch would have been decorated. The loft would have looked so magical.
Then they had Thanksgiving dinner at Stephen's fiance's parents house, and Mrs. Grenier had already started decorating for Christmas. The place had glowed.
And Jim's comment?
"Looks like Santa threw up in here."
It had killed the joy building in Blair's chest in a single, painful stroke.
It was near 4am when Jim came downstairs fully dressed. He pulled on his coat and gloves without a word. He disappeared into Blair's old room, which was now their shared office, and came back out after a few minutes. He set a folded sheet of paper near Blair's knee on the rug, nodded to Blair and left.
In precise handwriting, Jim wrote:
Blair, I know things have been difficult between us. Please give me a chance to find my way. I love you, and I know we can make this work. I'll see you at Simon's house at noon. Don't forget my pies. Jim.
Blair's heart did not leap with joy and race with hope. He folded the note, and set it aside. He tried to meditate for another hour before giving up. Was there really any point in pushing this further? Perhaps they should just give up gracefully, and he should accept the internship in Phoenix after all.
He went to the main library at the university for an hour to work on his paper. He could have gone to the library at the police academy, but he felt more comfortable -still- at his old stomping grounds. On his way back to the loft, he stopped at the bakery to get the cookie tray they had ordered for Simon's.
"No, no, it's already paid for." Ione had waved off his debit card. "Jim stopped by early, and paid for everything."
Blair thanked her, and took the tray. Jim had stopped to for the tray? Did that mean that Jim didn't think he was managing his money again? Or was he just being nice?
"Oh, and he asked me to give you this." Ione smiled at him brightly, reaching over to put a greeting card sized-envelope on top of the cookie tray.
He could hardly wait to look at the card as he walked upstairs to the loft. No sign of Jim, so Blair set the tray on the counter, and grabbed the card. Curbing his curiosity had never been a talent of his, so instead of just setting it aside and taking his shower, he opened the card immediately.
It was the kind of Christmas card you would give a little boy. There was a toy train on the front with a toy soldier standing beside it.
"To a special boy!" -it said on the front in the smoke from the train. He opened it up.
On the side it said, "May you have a wonderful Christmas!" in swirling black letters.
Jim's handwriting was in blue ink, the color of the pen he usually kept his folio in the truck.
"I don't want to lose you, but I can't make you stay. Please be patient with me. I love you, Jim."
Blair took a deep breath, blinking his vision clear. wow
He took his shower, got dressed in what he hoped was casual but nice. He didn't have his fashion patrol officer present to complain about the loudness of the Mayan vest or the beaded necklace his mom had sent him this year from Scotland.
He was five minutes early at Simon's and had just started towards the kitchen with the tray of cookies when his name was bellowed, "Sandburg!" No one jumped, but several people did cringe. Simon's new wife's family wasn't quite used to his summoning voice yet.
"Yes, sir?" Blair asked when he walked into Simon's office.
"Look, Sandburg. Blair." Simon looked uncomfortable and bit flustered. "I don't like to meddle in the affairs of my- not that I'm saying that you and Jim-."
"Simon, it's okay." Blair's heart lurched, and began to sink. Despite that, he still smiled. It was kind of amusing to see the big man at a loss for words. "Just say it straight."
"Jim had to run an errand to Seattle. He's not going to be here, but he wants you to stay. Besides I need you to help keep an eye on Yvonne. She has her eye on Rafe, and I do not want to find them hiding in a closet. Or worse." He went from pained to relieved in seconds. Yvonne was his 20-year old niece who had been sent to Cascade on a sort of family exile.
"Thanks, really. But I have some shopping I could get done…" He started backing out of the room, hands up defensively.
"Oh no you aren't! I promised Jim, and I am not letting you out of my eyesight!" Simon growled. "Don't make me set Aunt Bernadine on you!"
Blair laughed. He rather liked Aunt Bernadine. They had met at Simon's and Gayle's wedding, and had been friends ever since. She was 50 years his senior, brandished her walking cane like a samuri sword, and everyone loved her fiercely.
"What did you do this time?" She asked him a half hour later, whacking his leg with her cane.
"What?" Blair was startled out of eavesdropping on someone else's conversation.
"You, what did you do this time?" She repeated her question a little more loudly, a little more sharply. "That tall and handsome fella ain't here. You piss him off again?"
He heard a snicker nearby. Apparently, he wasn't the only one eavesdropping today. Not that you had to work to hear Aunt Bernadine's voice.
"I did not-." Blair started to protest, and then stopped. He took a deep breath. "We argued but it was mutual. He's running some errands."
"You are pushing him away instead of pulling him closer." She shook her white head at him. "You want to break up? I thought you gay folk wanted to be just like regular folk. Married and all that stupid shit."
"Aunt Bernadine!" Gayle called out, a fierce glint in her eyes.
"Pardon me." Aunt Bernadine wobbled her head in mock repentance.
"No, we don't want to break up. Gay folk are just the same as every one else. Human. We just have different-"
"No." Gayle's sister Eleanor spoke up this time.
"No. Uh-uh." She stalked over, shaking her finger at the elderly relative. "Don't you drag him into it."
"-preferences…?" Blair finished a little more confused than normal.
"You do not want to discuss sex-anything with Aunt Bernadine." Gayle explained. "You'll learn more than you ever wanted to know about straight sex, gay sex, old people sex. Trust me, you do not want learn about old people sex."
No, he didn't, really. He was used to it with his mom to some extent, though the older they got, the less he wanted to her about her bodily functions and other adventures. It was just too much sometimes no matter how open minded he could be.
When Blair was allowed to leave, Simon walked him out to his car. He was patient as he could see that Simon was struggling with wanting to say something. They stood by the driver's door for a few long moments.
"I'm obviously not the best advisor on marriage. Not that I'm saying, about you two…" Simon paused, heaving a deep breath, hands in his pockets and glancing up at the sky. "I've known Jim Ellison a long time. He's become a good friend. Someone I count on as a best friend. Best damn cop I've ever known. Gay, straight. I don't care about that shit. But some people do. Jim's spent a good part of his life in the military, military academy. Trying hard to fit in. Be the man his father wanted him to be."
"Yeah." Blair nodded, agreeing. It wasn't like he hadn't thought of that himself. "But every time-."
"You've never really had to hide who you are, have you? You've never had to deal with surviving among-."
"What? Other kids? With normal families, regular parents, living in one place longer than six months? I've had to handle prejudice over the years. Not just as a kid. I got beat up my freshman year of college because I was the freaky kid… I got beat up again in my junior year when my boyfriend and I were caught making out in the library." Blair shrugged, and it morphed into a shiver. "I gotta get going, I'm freezing."
"Look," Simon held the car door open for a moment, "I think the two of you are together for a reason. I don't totally get the whole super senses thing. But that's okay. You do. You have a gift- you get him. Carolyn never did. His own family doesn't. And Blair, no matter what you might think, he does love you."
Blair smiled up at him, and it wasn't just the heater warming him up. "Thanks, Simon."
Back at the loft, there were signs of Jim but no Jim. The bathroom smelled of fresh, clean shaven Jim. On the bathroom counter as he was brushing out his hair, he noticed a black velvet box with a tag on top that said his name in plain, precise Jim-handwriting.
He hesitated at first. Then finally, he set down his brush, and picked up the box. It was heavy, and unable to stop himself, he popped the lid open. Inside was a pewter bracelet. Solid pewter chain linked to a rectangle. On the rectangle was a single word engraved.
Sniffling a little, Blair set the box down and put the bracelet on his left wrist.
The other sign of Jim's visitation while Blair was gone was a large box wrapped in Christmas paper in front of the balcony windows. The tag said "Blair". The package was about 2 feet high, almost 4 feet long, and 2 feet wide. He didn't think it was a computer as Blair had bought a new one for them earlier this year. They didn't need another television or stereo system.
What could it be?
The land line rang, and Blair picked it up.
"Are you two fighting again?" Stephen, Jim's younger brother, asked by way of greeting.
"No." Blair chuckled. "We're not fighting. Jim's being Mr. Mysterious today. Why?"
"He called me and told me to call you and tell you he's running late, and he'll meet you at the church. Dad and Sally have already left."
"I better get going! I lost track of the time. See you in a few." Blair replied, realizing he still had stuff to get ready and he wasn't finished dressing.
"Yeah, you better not be fighting. I don't want another one of those stoic dinners again. All silent and -."
"Don't worry about it, Steve. It'll be fine." Blair hurried up and disconnected. He raced around, getting his jacket, and the nicer shoes. He headed down stairs, but had to run back up when he remembered the gifts.
He was about six minutes late to church, but Jim was eight minutes late. His first sight of Jim, he got a lump in his throat and had to blink to clear his vision. Hey, no matter what he might argue with Megan, real men do cry and get emotion. Even if those "real men" are gay and get choked up over a silly piece of jewelry.
Jim slipped into the pew and sat beside Blair. He took hold of Blair's left hand, lacing their fingers together. Blair inhaled Jim-scent deeply, closing his eyes and smiling. Jim squeezed his hand, and Blair looked around at him. They stared at each other a second before Stephen elbowed Blair in the ribs.
"Gooey mush." He grumbled under his breath, and Jim chuckled softly when Stephen grunted a half second later. Tamryn had elbowed Stephen from the other side.
Dinner was a feast, although not massive in size. William Ellison had wanted a basic family dinner, nothing fancy, and Sally (with assistance from various sources) did just that. Ham, squash casserole, sweet potatoes, fruit salad, and so on. Dessert was a selection of home-made pies- Jim had refused to compete this time- and a fruitcake version of bread pudding that Sally made and Blair devoured.
They exchanged gifts afterwards, sitting around in the living room sipping coffee or tea, listening to music on the stereo. Blair was stunned when he opened his gift.
"It's a group gift." William had explained. "It cost a pretty penny as you probably know, but we felt it was an excellent opportunity."
It was an original first edition of an 18th century French text on Sentinels found in Polynesia and New Guinea by a relatively unknown anthropologist.
"My uncle who owns the bookstore in San Francisco found it in a box he bought at an estate sale." Explained Tamryn further. "There are some pages missing in the back, but I figured you wouldn't mind. There are some notations too, see?" She pointed at same scribble marks with a glossy red fingernail. "You do read French, don't you?"
"Yeah." Blair whispered, afraid to open the book very wide. The book looked well worn, as if someone had carried it around with them.
Jim looked up at his father, and saw the older Ellison looking worried.
"Dad, relax. This is a stunned, happy Blair. You guys did good." Jim assured him, glancing around at the group. Blair followed it up by hugging everyone -including William.
Sally had knitted a sweater for Blair. For Jim and Stephen, she had put together two identical family albums. It included photos of their mom that they had never seen before. They stared at the albums in awe. William looked a little uncomfortable and yet determined.
"It was Sally's idea, I'll have you know. She brow-beat me into producing the photos of your mother. I had them stored in a safety deposit box in Seattle, mind you." Sally poked him in the shoulder, and he softened slightly. "Tamryn helped as well."
"You did?" Stephen blinked in surprise.
"Yes, I did." She smiled.
They stayed an hour or so longer, and then headed home. Jim followed behind Blair as was his usual habit, protecting even then. They were quiet walking up the stairs to the third floor. The elevator had been out all week, and they didn't even bother to press the button.
"I want to apologize." Jim spoke first. Blair was crossing the room to plug in the Christmas tree lights.
"We have to-."
"No, please. I don't have a quick fix, and I realize this won't fix everything. But I'm hoping it will give us a new start." Jim held up his left hand to stop Blair, and he saw the shimmer of the matching bracelet there. He held his tongue.
"I went to this place." Jim picked up a folded paper that was under the wicker key basket. Blair hadn't noticed it at all. Jim handed it to him, and he opened it. It was a flyer for the new LGBT community and resource center downtown. "They have therapists, counselors, classes, and so on. You'd like it. I told Curt you'd probably sign up to teach a class or two, and volunteer."
"I've been planning on checking it out." Blair nodded, and looked back up at Jim.
"I talked to Curt, he's the director and a licensed, practicing therapist. Signed up for some therapy sessions, and he said it would be good if you came too. Some couple sessions. I don't want to lose you, Blair. But as you can tell, I suck at relationships." He shook his head. "That's okay with you, isn't it? Going to-."
"Duh." Blair smiled. "I've trying to figure out how to suggest it to you without upsetting you."
"Yeah." Jim flashed a smile, and then sobered up again. "I tried to find another copy of that book of yours, the erotic one about that bench?"
Blair stiffened slightly, recalling the events of two weeks ago. It wasn't just erotica, it was gay erotica. Very explicit, and complete with a few pencil drawings. Megan had read it first, and told him about it. To get his copy, he had ordered it off of Amazon. Jim, in a fit of temper, had thrown the book out the window of the Forerunner as they crossed the bay one morning on the way to a crime scene. It had started their bout of abstinence.
"It's out of print." Blair said in an even tone. "I tried to re-order it on line."
"Yes, well Tamryn's uncle for a little help of my own. That's why I drove into Seattle today." Jim walked around Blair to the tree, bent down and picked up a book sized gift. He handed it to Blair. "It was more expensive because it's a signed edition."
Blair ripped it open. Yes! The Song of the Nightbird by Morgan Lemagne
"You drove to Seattle this morning?"
"Well, mid-morning. That's why I couldn't make it to Simon's." Jim felt his heart trip with hope at the look on Blair's face. "I told Curt about it, and you know what he said?"
"No, what?" Blair arched an eyebrow.
"He said I should read it with you." Jim sighed. "I just- It's not-."
"Jim, it's okay. Really. I don't expect you to read it. But it really hurt me when you tossed the other copy out the window."
"Me, too." Blair nodded, patting the book, and then setting it down on the coffee table. "I promise not to push so hard. I promise to try and be more patient."
"You have the patience of a saint." Jim reached over and touched the curls that fascinated him so much. His thumb stroked a jaw line.
Blair grabbed a handful of tie and pulled Jim in for a kiss. It might have been his intention to have a quick, hot kiss but it ended up being a long hot kiss with lots of tongue.
In the morning, Blair got to find out what was in the big box.
It was a bench. The wood was cherry just like in the book, and it had scroll work, upholstered seat with rolled arms…
And Blair illustrated the book for Jim. Educated. Illuminated. Rejuvenated.
When they went back to work on the 26th, Jim wobbled a bit when he walked but boy, did he smile!
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Notes: For Patt, BFF! Thank you to Mary for the beta.