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Just because ...

... it's the anniversary weekend, I felt like writing a short bit to celebrate. I know it's been ten years for The Sentinel, but it's only been just over three years in my life since I was introduced to this show and these wonderful characters. And, through them, to incredibly wonderful friends. I'm very grateful to Jim and Blair, to Ceryndip for introducing me to them, and to all of you, for all the happiness you bring into my life.



HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, PARTNER


by Arianna


Notes: Well, I did a gen fic for the Anniversary site, but thought I should also do a slash piece to celebrate. I’m not sure if this is finished or if more will emerge over the weekend and Monday – I’m really supposed to be working on something else, LOL. This is short, nominally slash and, at this point anyway, PG, and currently unbeta’d. Just a simple little ‘slice of life’, I guess. No great drama, or h/c, or angst even, but I hope you like it anyway. Oh, and the house in the story? This is where I lived for five years in Winnipeg, only my yard bordered on the Red River and not the sea. Makes me happy to imagine them living in it.


After parking next to Blair’s car in the lofty, double garage, they grabbed the bags of groceries from the back of Jim’s truck, and clomped along the three-foot-wide boardwalk that ran between the side of the redwood house and the line of tall Colorado blue spruces to the short flight of steps that led to the deck and their front door. Ahead of them, the lingering rosy glow of the setting sun glittered on the foam-crested waves rolling toward the rocky shore at the bottom of their long, sloping yard. That view alone, the peace of it, worked its usual magic; tense shoulders eased as they both took unconsciously deep breaths to savor the rich scents of pine and sea, and smiles quirked at the corners of their mouths, easing the weariness of their expressions.

Though they had been scheduled for time off, they’d been called in just before midnight. The freighter carrying a load of illegal arms was arriving ahead of schedule and the weapons deal was going down sooner than expected; Simon had wanted Jim on the stake-out at the docks to monitor the unloading and follow the truck back to the then unknown location where the illicit transaction would take place. The take-down operation had gone like clockwork just before dawn, and most of the day had been taken up with interrogations and the mountain of paperwork required for the bookings and laying of charges. No big deal, really, but neither of them was as young as he used to be and a night without sleep spent mostly in the numbing boredom of surveillance of not much, followed by the rush of adrenaline during the bust itself, and then the tension of having to dredge up energy to be alert and focused during the aftermath, to ensure no mistakes were made and the arrests would hold, had worn them both out. The mild resentment of having had to cancel their plans for a weekend getaway hadn’t helped lift their spirits or energy levels.

Jim unlocked the door and shoved it open with his shoulder. Momentarily setting the bags on the floor, they shrugged out of their jackets and hung in them in the roomy, walk-in coat closet, and then carried the groceries past the spiral, solid oak staircase into the kitchen where they were deposited on the massive butcher-block island. Between them, they made short work of putting everything away onto pantry shelves hidden behind dark oak-paneled doors and the large refrigerator. Finishing up, Jim snagged two beers and turned to his partner, extending one in mute invitation.

Blair stuffed the last of the folded paper bags away under the island and straightened, one hand raking his hair back off his forehead while the other reached for the cold bottle. “Thanks, man,” he murmured with a weary smile, and then covered a yawn.

Jim’s mouth quirked fondly as he studied Blair’s face, noting the small lines at the corners of eyes and mouth, the gray threads in the abundant, glossy hair. Oh, it wasn’t as long as it had once been, but it was still a wild array of unruly curls, and those long-lashed deep blue eyes still held a bright, vibrant sparkle – despite the lack of sleep and long hours. In a few more weeks, Blair would be thirty-seven-years old – older than Jim had been when they’d first met. The man wasn’t as bouncy as he’d been, but he could still talk a mile a minute and he seemed to have a reservoir of energy inside that just didn’t quit – until he hit some invisible wall and crashed, to sleep for hours. Even then, though, he was never completely still but mumbled and moved restlessly his sleep, as if there would never be enough hours for him to finish all that he had to say and do.

Tilting his head, Jim led the way out of the open end of the kitchen, sauntered between the dining and living areas, and on through the right-hand set of French doors into their sunroom. Out there, all the walls around them were clear glass, giving out over the lower deck, where their barbecue sat under a high, spreading oak, and the wide expanse of grass. The lower branches of the elm about two-thirds of the way to the shore framed their view of the water. On the left of the yard, the line of spruces ended at a back gate that led out to the green-space along the shore. On the right was a stand of trees and shrubbery that effectively screened them from neighbours they never saw and rarely heard, giving the illusion that they were outside the city when, in fact, the drive to work wasn’t much longer than it had been from the loft, and a small, ethnic micro-community of shops and restaurants flourished just over a block away. A variety of plants gave a garden feel to the all-season sunroom that was large enough to have a comfortable array of furniture at one end and a table and four chairs at the other, near the sliding door that led onto a small porch and the three steps down to the deck. Jim sank onto their old loveseat that now faced the water, and lifted one arm around Blair’s shoulders when his partner sat down beside him.

“I love it out here,” Blair said quietly, and took a slow sip of beer.

“Hmm,” Jim sighed lazily, reflecting – as he often did – that they’d been lucky to get the house four years before when he’d decided they needed a little more space than the loft offered. It had been on the market less than two days when he’d spotted the for sale sign on his way past and, when he’d checked, the price was more than reasonable. Blair had been surprised by the suggestion that they check it out but had gone along willingly enough, though not really expecting that they’d actually buy it. But when they’d first walked down that sheltered wooden boardwalk and had seen the sea and, then, inside, looking past the curving, floating staircase to the loft above with it’s cathedral ceiling and wall of windows, to the living room with the massive fireplace in the corner and the bank of French doors leading out into this sunroom and the grass and sea beyond, they’d been immediately captured by the tranquility and beauty of the place. The fact that the two guest rooms and a second full bath were located off a back hall behind the kitchen far from the loft above had also really appealed to Jim. Naomi was visiting more often as the years passed, and he privately wondered if she wouldn’t be moving in with them some day as she got older – he didn’t mind her visits but he wanted more privacy than the loft had allowed when she was there.

But it had been this sunroom that had appealed to Blair, the idea that regardless of the weather, in any season, they could sit out there and enjoy being surrounded by greenery and see the sea. And both of them had loved the spacious and airy upper loft. There was plenty of room for Blair’s desk, file cabinets and bookcases at one end, an oak entertainment centre built into one corner with room for two comfortable chairs, the bed at the opposite end of the room, and a balcony – partially shaded by the surrounding trees – along the end of the house above the sunroom. The ensuite held more cupboards and cabinets and closet space than they’d ever need, as well as both a large whirlpool tub in the corner and a good-sized shower enclosure.

They’d made their offer before they’d left the house, and they’d moved in less than two months later. Not a day had gone by since that they didn’t feel the same sense of wonder at their good fortune when they returned home to their sanctuary that they’d felt the first time they’d seen the place.

Jim lightly stroked Blair’s arm with his fingertips and then leaned over to drop a kiss on his partner’s temple. “I’m sorry our weekend plans didn’t work out,” he sighed as he leaned back and rested his head against the top of the loveseat.

“I know,” Blair nodded slowly. Relaxing into Jim’s embrace, he rested one hand on his partner’s thigh with unconsciousness possessiveness. “But this is good.”

“You want to go some place fancy for dinner?” he offered, half-heartedly.

Chuckling low in his throat, Blair looked up at him. “Do you?”

“Well, we wanted to do something special,” Jim temporized, avoiding a direct response.

Again, Blair nodded slowly, and a soft smile played over his lips. He leaned forward to set his beer on the low table in front of them, and then shifted to curl against Jim and rest his cheek on the strong shoulder. One arm slipped behind Jim’s waist and the other rested on his chest. Closing his eyes, relishing the grip of Jim’s arms around him and the feeling of Jim’s chin resting on the top of his head, he murmured, “This is special.”

Jim’s throat thickened at the candid simplicity of that affirmation. He never ceased to be amazed that Blair never seemed to grow tired of him, and that the kid – for he’d always be a kid in Jim’s eyes – honestly meant that just sitting here quietly with him, in the peace of their home, was something special, something to be cherished. “I love you,” he rasped hoarsely, knowing he didn’t say it often enough, not nearly often enough.

“I know,” Blair whispered fondly and tightened his embrace.

Smiling peacefully, Jim let his fingers comb through the silky curls as he thought back over the years. On Monday, two days hence, it would be ten years since he’d tensely strode into Hargrove Hall searching for the office of one Blair Sandburg, and wondering if he was crazy to be following up on the lead given him by that very strange doctor or intern or whatever the hell he was at the hospital. He remembered being disconcerted and deeply irritated when he’d discovered the weirdo in the ER was Blair Sandburg, the white lab coat gone and in its place a blue-tapestry vest over a white shirt and ragged blue jeans, the tied back hair now loose and wild as the kid grooved to the rhythms blasting from the machine on the shelf behind the desk. Looking out over the ocean, his lips thinned as he recalled slamming Blair against the wall with hot fury at being made to feel like a freak – a caveman throwback. Grimacing, he sighed, thinking he’d sure acted like one in those first few minutes of their acquaintance. But his expression softened at the memory of his partner’s reaction. Even then, when all he’d been was a violently angry and – he could admit it now – scared stranger, Blair hadn’t been afraid of him, had faced him down and made him listen to the explanation of what he was. A sentinel. Blair’s ‘holy grail’. The kid’s ‘dissertation’.

God, that had really freaked him out. He’d felt … what? He frowned as he reached for those old, buried feelings. Furious at being dehumanized by being objectified as a thing, a piece of paper? Scared? That this kid wasn’t at all who he’d hoped to find when he’d come searching for someone to make sense of what was happening to him? Mortified to be so in need of another’s help, so desperate to hope he wasn’t just going crazy? Bitterly disappointed that he hadn’t found that help, that there was no experienced, knowledgeable person in the office at the end of that long, dark hallway, only a hyper-active, babbling kid who hardly looked old enough to vote? Awash in despair that he was on his own and … and he didn’t have a clue about how he was going to cope with senses that had gone wild and were driving him nuts. Nearly overwhelmed by chaotic emotion, he’d stomped off before giving in to his impulses to do serious damage to the young fool who had raised his hopes only to dash them so completely. There was no help for him, not anywhere. He’d been sure of that in those moments as he’d strode swiftly down the corridor and out the door into the bright sunlight that hurt his eyes. Jim knew he’d heard the kid shout something behind him as he was leaving, but he’d ignored the call. Heading across the street, struggling to contain the despair and anger, the disappointment and fear, he’d looked over the grassy common area and saw a bright red Frisbee flying against the impossibly blue sky …

… and found himself lying on the pavement, the screech of a truck’s brakes shrieking in his ears, and strong arms embracing him.

God, it had been disorienting. The garbage truck driver yelling about nearly having hit him, the kid babbling about something called a ‘zone-out factor’ – the same neo-hippie, witchdoctor punk he’d slammed against a wall and had practically run away from was jabbering at him and had, evidently, just saved his life. A crowd was gathering and he wanted, needed, to get away, needed to understand what had just happened and, as unbelievable as it had seemed at the time, the crazy kid seemed to know. So, when Sandburg had led the way to somewhere they could talk, he’d followed.

Smiling bemusedly, Jim figured he’d been following Sandburg ever since. His hand cupped Blair’s head and pressed him closer as he bent to nuzzle the sweet-smelling curls. Nearly ten years ago he’d walked away from this man in his arms – had nearly lost whatever chance he’d had for a sane life and more love than he’d ever imagined could exist in the whole world. But Blair, ever irrepressible, had followed him and had saved him … and had been saving him ever since, first becoming the best friend he’d ever had and then his partner in all the meanings of that word.

That kid was now approaching middle age; the pacifist grad student who had once categorically refused to ever pack a weapon had become a cop. And that crazy punk kid had turned out to be brilliant as hell, brave beyond imagining … and the love and light of his life. Jim wasn’t a particularly religious man, but he’d long ago started thanking the power that Blair summed up as ‘the Universe’ every day for making that priceless kid part of his world.

As dusk fell around them, he mused that Blair was right. This, just this – being together, sharing a life, holding one another at the end of the day – was immeasurably special, especially when it might never have happened if Blair hadn’t followed him into the street that first day, or hadn’t followed him back that terrible morning at the fountain … or if he had chosen to take his words at face value and had moved on as Jim had told him do in the midst of the chaos around the leak of his dissertation. But Blair had chosen him over his career, over wealth and fame. Had chosen a badge over a doctorate.

Jim had been beyond grateful for the wholly unexpected sacrifice on his behalf, and immeasurably relieved when Blair had accepted the offer to go to the Academy and to become his official partner. But he’d been puzzled at the time and felt a good deal of guilt for how he’d behaved. He couldn’t understand why Blair had done all that for him. When the hazing at the Academy had grown ugly, and Blair had come home one day with a black eye and bruises, Jim had been furious – and his feelings of guilt had grown ever stronger. He’d wanted to do something, go out and arrest whoever had abused the kid, but Blair had just grinned lopsidedly and shrugged. “You should see the other guy if you think this is bad,” he’d teased cockily. “Don’t worry about it, man,” he’d gone on when Jim refused to find the situation amusing. “This is just a point in time thing. It’ll pass – shit always does. I’m good.”

And, weeks later, when the sniping and snide comments downtown went beyond low mutterings, so that even Blair could hear the crap that was being said about him, Jim wanted to pound the bastards into the dirt. What the hell did they know about his partner, this man who had more courage and integrity in his little finger than the pack of fools could scrounge up between them? But when he’d stiffened in fury, Blair had grabbed his arm and pulled him away, time and time again. “They don’t know, man,” he’d murmured. “And they can’t know – so let it go. Point in time, remember? Trust me, this, too, shall pass.”

But Jim hadn’t been able to get past it. Anger and guilt and remorse built inside him until he couldn’t ever seem to relax. He’d closed into himself, had needed to exercise every bit of control he had to keep from exploding with frustration at not being able to do anything to make any of it right. God, how he wished he’d just lived with the publicity and gotten past that, because he knew it would have died down eventually. Wished that he hadn’t … hadn’t accepted Blair’s sacrifice on his behalf. As immensely glad as he was that the kid was his official partner and always would be, the cost had been too high. The price Blair had paid and was still paying for his peace of mind and privacy was too much. And it seemed he just kept on paying, day after day, while he listened to others condemning him as a liar and a fraud. But Blair had fought him every time he said he wanted to go public, wanted to make things right.

“Make what things right?” the kid had argued heatedly one night, his tone sharp with exasperation. “What isn’t right about our lives, Jim?” he’d demanded. “Who cares what a few people – who don’t know any better – think? Huh? The people who matter – the D.A., the Chief and Commissioner, our colleagues – know the facts, and that’s all that matters here. Don’t you want me to be your partner? Because I sure in hell want this badge, want the right to stand by your side and watch your back. And I damned well want you safe, man. Safe from crooks who could use your senses against you – or from God knows what country that’d want to kidnap you and experiment on you or use you for their own ends. Sonovabitch, Jim, would you get with the program! What is so damned hard about just being a little patient and letting the heat die down? Because it will – in a year nobody will still be grousing about me getting a detective’s shield right out of the Academy, and if they do, so what? We’ve got what we want – right? Right?” But the fire had died from his eyes when Jim hadn’t answered immediately. Doubt and anxious uncertainty had crept in to cloud the brightness. “Or …” he’d begun and then hesitated, his gaze searching Jim’s. “God – you aren’t sorry, are you? About being partnered with me now? Are you?”

The shaky hurt in the kid’s tone had killed Jim’s anger in a heartbeat. Striding across the floor, he had gripped Blair’s shoulders, hard. “No,” he’d insisted, rough with emotion. “God, no, Chief. I’m not sorry. Not about that. Never about that. Believe that, Sandburg. You’re the only partner I’ll ever want.”

“Then what the hell is wrong?” Blair had demanded, his voice cracking. “Why isn’t it enough for you?”

“Enough?” he’d exclaimed, his fingers digging into Sandburg’s shoulders, nearly shaking him. “Jesus, Chief – the problem is that it’s too much, too damned much! You … you gave away everything to protect me! That’s what’s wrong! God, Blair …” he rasped, looking away, his throat thick. “And what they say about you. It’s so damned unfair.”

“Ah, man,” Blair had replied, his hands lifting to grip Jim’s arms. “I didn’t give up anything. I quit – walked away from the charade that academia still mattered to me, because it didn’t. What? You think I wanted a prosaic life of small-minded politics and inflated egos? I stopped bullshitting them and you and me and everyone else that I was a professor-wannabe, playing their stupid games of publish or die and pretending their narrow, safe, overly-intellectualized world mattered beyond those hallowed halls.”

Jim had leveled his gaze on Blair’s wide-open eyes and shook his head. “Don’t give me that,” he grated. “Don’t lie to me and tell me that it didn’t hurt. That it wasn’t just about the hardest thing you’d ever done in your life, walking away from all that, labeling yourself a fraud. Because I know better, dammit.”

“Okay, so it hurt,” the kid had allowed then, but he held Jim’s eyes and the grip he had on Jim’s arms. If anything, he held on tighter. He swallowed hard and pressed his lips together, obviously battling strong emotions, mastering them, before he went on, his voice low and firm, “But I chose to walk away from it all, Jim. I chose what mattered more to me than all of that ever would.”

“What? A badge, a gun?” he’d protested, frowning in disbelief. “Being a cop mattered more than being a teacher, a researcher – more than –”

“I didn’t know I’d get the badge,” Blair had cut in. “I didn’t dare hope for anything so, so amazing at that point. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but that didn’t matter. Nothing mattered except … except you.” Moisture glittered in his eyes then and he blinked quickly to clear them. “You and … and saving what we had – if I could, if it wasn’t already too late – was all I could think about, all that mattered.”

Jim closed his eyes and the muscle along his jaw rippled. He hadn’t understood – giving up so much – it didn’t make any sense. “Why?” he’d asked, helplessly, and again lifted his eyes to meet Blair’s steady gaze. “With all the grief I gave you … why the hell would you do that for me?”

Blair’s lips thinned and Jim felt a tremble ripple through his friend’s body, but his gaze hadn’t wavered. He dragged in a breath and, finally, he’d replied with simple honesty, “Because I love you.”

“Ah, shit, Chief,” he’d said then, breaking away, but he didn’t move more than a step back. Shaking his head, looking out through the balcony window, he’d murmured, “It’s too much. To give up all that because we’re friends.” He’d glanced back at Blair as he went on uneasily, “Don’t get me wrong. What you did … I’m grateful; I’ll always be grateful. But I don’t deserve that kind of sacrifice. No friend deserves that.”

Sandburg had given a low, short laugh at that, and his gaze had finally fallen away. His arms hung loosely by his side and his head bowed. “You don’t understand,” he said so softly that Jim could barely hear him, his voice raw and hoarse. “It wasn’t a sacrifice … not if I could keep what we had. I couldn’t … couldn’t bear to lose you, to lose this life with you. I was only afraid it wouldn’t be enough, you know? That things had gone so far that there was no way back.” He sniffed and swiped at his face, and then lifted his head. A smile trembled on his lips. “But I got so much more. I got to be your official partner. I got it all, man. So don’t be beating yourself up anymore, okay?”

Jim remembered he’d looked away from that candid gaze, and he’d rubbed his mouth as he struggled to understand. But he’d never experienced such a selfless gift of unconditional love before. “You gotta be the only guy in the world who’d do so much for a friend,” he’d said awkwardly. God knew, he hadn’t been willing to give up everything he loved in his life to cheer Sandburg on and be glad the kid would be rich and famous, with all his dreams coming true. He’d been angry and hurt and, okay, scared. Being pleased for Blair hadn’t even occurred to him. If anything, he’d resented it all … and most of all he’d resented that it was him, his senses, that had given Blair the means to break free of him, to leave him for a better life.

“It wasn’t hard to do, Jim,” Blair had countered quietly, his voice shaky. “I won’t ever be sorry that I did it or ever regret my decision.”

“Because you love me,” he’d sighed and raked his hand over his head to knead the back of his neck. “It’s as simple as that.”

“Yeah, as simple as that. Because I love you,” Blair had affirmed steadily, and then he had started to move past, heading toward his room.

But Jim had heard something in his tone that he had heard the first time but hadn’t understood. “Wait,” he’d called, whipping around to catch Blair’s arm and hold him in place, while he grappled with what the kid had just told him. He was aware of his partner’s utter stillness as Blair watched him, his expression guarded, uncertainty again in his eyes. “We’re not just talking friends here, are we, Chief?” he’d dared to ask then, holding his breath, conscious of a hollowness in his gut and an ache in his chest.

Blair’s earnest gaze had flitted away and then back. He lifted his chin and straightened his shoulders, and his whole body had gone tight with tension. “We’re talking whatever you’re comfortable with, Jim. So long as … as I get to be your friend, and your partner downtown, it’s whatever you want, man,” he’d replied evenly, though Jim could hear tones of fear and hope all mingled together, and Blair’s heart was beating fast, as if he were running flat-out and not standing as still as a statue.

Jim’s throat was dry, his mouth parched. “Have I ever given you reason to think that …” he demanded, but his voice faded away.

“No, Jim, you haven’t,” Blair told him firmly. “Don’t sweat it. Everything’s fine. I’ve got more than I hoped for and I’m good. Just, uh, just don’t hold it against me, okay?” He smiled crookedly, and Jim thought he’d never seen anyone act with more bravery as he continued with poignant wistfulness, “Not my fault, you know? Not my fault if you’re … you’re the best thing that ever happened to me. Not your fault, either. Just is, man. Just is.”

He began to pull away but Jim tightened his grip, unwilling to let him go. “So, you don’t know,” he’d said. When Blair had looked at him quizzically, clearly not getting his meaning, Jim licked his lips and swallowed hard. “You don’t know that … that I don’t think I could have ever let you go.”

“Well, that shouldn’t have been a worry, man,” Blair had laughed nervously. “You have to have known I’d never abandon you, not so long as you had any need of me. You did know that, didn’t you?”

Jim shook his head tightly. “No, I didn’t,” he admitted hoarsely. “That’s … that’s why I was so shook, so … remote. I wanted, wanted to grab hold of you and tell you that you couldn’t do it, couldn’t quit; couldn’t leave me. No matter how successful the damned book was going to be. So, so I pushed you away, to keep from holding on. Told you to go before I lost it and begged you to stay. You, you had … have … a right to your own life.”

Blair had searched his eyes then, confusion giving way to an achingly painful glitter of hope in the wide depths. “Jesus, Jim. What are you saying, here? That you – you love me? Seriously? You really love me?”

“Ah, hell, Blair, what’s not to love?” he’d sighed heavily, even wearily, weak with the relief of not having to pretend any longer. Not having to hide what he felt anymore.

“Well, fuck,” Blair had gasped, gaping at him, and then a smile brighter than any noon sun could ever be burst over his face.

“Whenever you want, Chief,” he had agreed dryly, as if it had been a suggestion as opposed to stunned shock.

“You shit!” Blair had exclaimed, smacking his chest and then laughing joyfully. The next thing Jim knew, he had an armful of one very happy man who was hugging the stuffing out of him. “How much time have we wasted, man?” Blair asked, tilting his head up, his mouth invitingly close.

“Too much,” he’d replied. “Let’s not waste anymore,” he added huskily as he lowered his head to cover Blair’s lips with his own.

**

Jim was drawn from his reverie when Blair stirred against him, and he was surprised to find it was fully dark, the sun long set. “What are you thinking, Jim?” he asked.

“I’m thinking about how lucky I am, Chief,” he replied warmly, shifting a little to tenderly kiss Blair’s brow. “The luckiest guy in the world.”

“Mmm,” Blair murmured drowsily. “Glad you think so.” He took a deep, contented breath and let it out slowly, and then sat up. “But there can only be one ‘luckiest guy’ and I’ve held those honors for quite some time now,” he said fondly as he cupped Jim’s face and, ever mindful of his sensitivity to touch, caressed his cheek with a light thumb. “For nearly ten years, to be exact.”

Jim’s eyes crinkled with merriment and he smiled slowly. “You sure you don’t want to go out to celebrate?”

“Nah, man, not unless you really want to. You don’t, do you?”

“How about we start the fire, maybe order in some of our favorite Chinese, open a bottle of wine …?”

“Takes them an hour to deliver,” Blair reminded him.

“S’okay, I’m not starving yet – and I have a few ideas about how we could fill the time.”

Blair snickered and pushed himself to his feet. “Sounds like a plan I could get behind,” he replied seductively as he held out a hand to haul Jim up. “You start the fire and open the wine, and I’ll make the call.”

“Behind, in front, on top, underneath,” Jim murmured happily to himself as he followed Blair inside. He flicked on the gas fireplace and then crossed the room to their wine rack on the shelving unit near the dining room table, while Sandburg loped ahead to the phone on the built-in desk in the kitchen.

“What?” Blair called, the phone already in his hand. “I can’t hear you.”

“Just working out my plan of action, Chief,” he replied with a grin.

Laughing happily, Blair punched in the numbers and then placed their order. “That’s fine,” he said at the end of the call. “We’re in no rush. Take your time.”

Joining his partner in the living room, he walked into Jim’s arms. “Happy Anniversary, Jim,” he crooned, lifting his face and smiling brightly.

“Happy Anniversary, partner,” Jim replied huskily. For a moment, he stood as if mesmerized by the firelight flickering on his beloved’s beautiful face. “God, Blair … I don’t tell you often enough, I guess, but I love you more than … than anything, you know?”

“I know,” Blair replied, joy dancing in his eyes as he lifted his hands to draw Jim’s lips down to his own.

**

Comments

( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
alyburns
Mar. 19th, 2006 07:13 am (UTC)
awwwww, happy, happy
happy and more happy. A beautiful slice of life and a lovely addition to the anniversary fics.
caarianna
Mar. 19th, 2006 07:32 am (UTC)
Re: awwwww, happy, happy
Thanks, Aly, I'm glad you liked it. I substituted the river that ran past the end of my yard in Winnipeg for the ocean ... but that was the house I lived in for five happy years. It seemed to me to be the kind of place they'd enjoy. Hmm. Wonder how they feel about the mice .... ;)
luna_61
Mar. 19th, 2006 08:02 am (UTC)
This is a wonderful anniversary story. Thank you!!
caarianna
Mar. 19th, 2006 08:14 am (UTC)
You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
trislindsay
Mar. 19th, 2006 10:05 am (UTC)
What a lovely anniversary story! Quiet joy.

Annie C
caarianna
Mar. 19th, 2006 10:10 am (UTC)
Thanks, Annie. I'm really glad you liked it.
fluterbev
Mar. 19th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
Oh, this is beautiful! I can so see all of this happening. It's so them :-)
caarianna
Mar. 19th, 2006 10:45 am (UTC)
Ah, thanks so much, Bev! This is one of those stories that just wrote itself, you know? Man, I love stories like that, that just flow of their own accord, where I don't have to do any real work other than putting the words onto the screen. I'm really glad you enjoyed it.
fluterbev
Mar. 19th, 2006 10:50 am (UTC)
It was clearly a story that was meant to be written, happily for the rest of us :-)
cindershadow
Mar. 19th, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC)
A beautiful setting, befitting a beautiful story! What a perfect way to celebrate the anniversary, for them and for us.

Thanks so much!
caarianna
Mar. 21st, 2006 07:20 am (UTC)
Cindershadow, I'm so glad you enjoyed the story. I'm always a bit worried that when I don't throw in a mountain of pain that folks won't be satisfied. Thanks so much for commenting.
snailbones
Mar. 19th, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
That was so peaceful and lovely, thank you... plus you described my perfect house.

::happy sigh::
caarianna
Mar. 19th, 2006 07:10 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed the story! And I loved living in that house (though it was on a river and not an ocean, it was exactly as described and I fell in love with it at first sight), never imagined I'd ever be lucky enough to live in such a truly beautiful place ... er, well, until I was away on holiday for a month one year, my last year there, and the mice completely infested the place. ::shudders:: A few mice, okay. An army of the filthy little critters, ugh! If not for them, as hard as the winters were in Winnipeg, I might very well still be living in it. But, as Blair says, there's nothing random in the Universe and now I'm in another very beautiful setting in a much more temperate region. Lucky is what I am. Very lucky.
jessriley
Mar. 20th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
Beautifully descriptive story showing the happiness and contentment of their life together. Wonderfully written, again!
caarianna
Mar. 20th, 2006 02:04 am (UTC)
Hey, thanks, hon! I'm really glad you liked it!
starwatcher307
Mar. 20th, 2006 06:48 am (UTC)
.
So beautiful; I love the feeling of peace that you wove between them. You left me teary-eyed a couple of times. I loved Blair's explanation of what he had gained, that led up to their mutual declaration; really tugged at the heartstrings. Lovely, lovely story; I salute you.
.
caarianna
Mar. 20th, 2006 07:48 am (UTC)
Aww, thanks so much, Linda. You know how much I treasure your feedback. I'm still tinkering a bit (as you no doubt expected) but I'll be getting it to you for formal betaing soon. At least it's not too long, LOL. Though, I was thinking tonight of adding to it, with a call from Simon on Sunday night to inform them that Veronica Serris has escaped from Conover. ::grins:: However, I think I may just let this story stand as it is. It feels 'complete'.

Have a great day tomorrow, buddy!
dusty_star
Mar. 20th, 2006 12:24 pm (UTC)
Happy Anniversary
Oh that was lovely, thank you.
I could see the house in all it's glory, and I'm sure that Jim and Blair would love to live there.
It was also lovely to see how they were still together and in love the way it was meant to be.
Thanks

Dusty
caarianna
Mar. 20th, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Happy Anniversary
Dusty, thank you for your comments! Much appreciated.
debbiet
Mar. 21st, 2006 02:57 am (UTC)
A wonderful slice of life story! I loved the descriptions of the surroundings and the house.

Like the fact that Jim still calling Blair 'kid' :)

You did a wonderful job of capturing Jim's thoughts and feelings about that first day and his meeting with Blair. Perfect!

I liked Blair's honesty with Jim about wanting to be Jim's partner. And how they mutually came to the conclusion they loved each other. Just like it would happen.

Thanks for sharing!
caarianna
Mar. 21st, 2006 05:59 am (UTC)
Debbie, thanks so much for your comments! I'm so glad you enjoyed the story!
aerianya
Mar. 21st, 2006 05:11 am (UTC)
Beautiful
Just an old comfortable couple “You sure you don’t want to go out to celebrate?”
“Nah, man, not unless you really want to. You don’t, do you?”

Perfection! *sigh^
Love the house description a place to live love.
caarianna
Mar. 21st, 2006 05:57 am (UTC)
Re: Beautiful
Thanks so much for letting me know you enjoyed this story! And, yeah, that house is something special. I appreciate your note!
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )