know how to do this, right?”
ask me to dance and then you want to know if I can?”
grinned cheekily. “Oh, I know you can dance, you do it around Simon all the
time. But can you line dance.”
took their place with the others just as the DJ jumped back up onto the
platform. Beaming down at his victims, about fifteen of them, he addressed the
this is how it works. I play the music, you guys dance. Then I come down, hand
some poor unsuspecting boob—er, some lucky soul, the mike and they start
singing with the music while dancing. If I take the mike away, you are really,
really, really bad and must exit the floor.
If you keep the mike, you are really, really, really good and have to
keep going. If you have the mike at the end of the set, you win.” Then he
winked. “And what do you win? One free dinner at Hooligans, that’s what. Oh,
and,” he held up a tee-shirt, “this nifty Hooligans shirt proclaiming your
set the shirt down, then grinned maniacally. “Okay, boys and girls, this is
it. The song is, They’re Taking Everything Away and let’s hope you know the
set down the mike and seconds later, the music started playing.
Everyone was in line and immediately began dancing, heel, toe, forward
two steps, back one step, turn, clap, start over. The music was loud, the line
dancers were good.
the gang of Major Crime, there was no doubt as to the best on the floor. Rhonda
had to pick up a menu and start fanning herself as she watched Blair’s hips,
then his butt. His tight -fitting jeans showed every part of his body off to its
best advantage and the purple shirt, tucked in, with sleeves rolled up,
emphasized his slender waist, nice chest and highlighted his eyes. And he moved
like nobody’s business.
wasn’t the only one at the MC table looking. Jim was bug-eyed. As he watched,
he found that no matter how hard he tried, when the line had their backs to the
table, his eyes focused on Sandburg’s butt and no where else. And he did try.
Hard. Jesus, he’d been living with the guy for years—so where the hell had
that butt been?
layers of flannel and baggy pants, that’s where.
could feel the heat around him and he wondered if anyone else was as warm.
crowd was clapping with the dancers, yelling out yoohaws, yeehaws and singing
along. Finally the DJ jumped down from his perch and strolled around a few
seconds before handing off the mike to an unsuspecting woman. She took it,
giggled, then started singing—badly. He
let her get out a sentence, then quickly snatched it away. By now, the song was
on its second replay and the dancers were really moving.
DJ strolled around, then spotted another victim, he started moving fast.
my God, he’s gonna hand the mike to Megan!” Rhonda crowed.
I’m betting—Sandburg,” Simon guessed.
Sure enough, the mike was handed to Blair, who stared at it a moment,
then after a nudge from Megan, began to sing while he continued to line dance.
voice was good, his moves better. He was grinning as he sang and
best part came when he sang, “No more sex, or you might die,” and two
members of the audience held out condoms. Blair line danced over to one woman
and took the condom out of her hand, then winking, tucked it into the back
pocket of his jeans. The crowd went wild. Jim moaned.
the time the song wound down, the whole restaurant was singing with Blair and
the music, including Major Crime. The DJ let it go one more time and Blair sang
it again, this time from the top.
had finally had enough. He shoved at Simon, who slid out. Jim stood on the
fringe of the dance floor for a moment and when the line drew close to his
position, he stepped in. Next to Blair.
had to admit, he was having a blast. And then—Jim stepped in beside him and
started to line dance. While staring at Blair. O-kay.
they pivoted, Blair got a good look at Jim’s moves—and his ass, and he
almost forgot the next lyric. Seemed as though Mr. Ex-Ranger, Tougher-Than-Nails
Ellison could dance.
song finally ended and Blair still had the mike. Everyone rose and applauded as
the DJ led him to the bandstand. He presented him with the shirt and gift
certificate, then said, “Young man, you can sing here any time you want.”
in the audience yelled out, “And don’t forget the dancing! He can wiggle
that cute butt of his anytime!” Then someone else yelled out, “Hey, honey,
bring that butt right over here!”
laughed as Blair blushed to the roots of his hair. He thanked the DJ, then
jumped down and with eyes glued to the floor, he made his way back to the table.
was leaning against the booth, arms crossed over his chest and smiling like the
Cheshire cat. “Not bad, Sandburg, not bad at all.
You’ve got all the moves, baby.”
grinned at him, remembering the first time Jim had said that.
“Hey, you’re not bad in the move department yourself, Detective
a moment, their eyes met and neither one saw anything else, then Megan bumped
Blair with her hip and quipped, “What about me, Sandy?”
hey, very down under moves, Megan. You’re,” he looked up at her and patted
the top of her head, “tops with me, kid.”
got five years and how many inches on you, squirt?”
you calling squirt?” Blair said, a devilish gleam in his eyes.
patted Blair on the top of the head and said, “You, squirt.”
rolled his eyes. “Jeez. Just because I’m surrounded by sequoias doesn’t
make me a squirt.”
right,” Simon interjected. “It makes you a twig.”
grinned and gave Blair a little shove. “Sit, twig, take a leaf off.”
God, now I have to put up with another nickname?”
Sandburg, I think we’re all in agreement that twig is it. As of this moment,
I, Henri Brown, do hereby swear off of calling you Hairboy and will, from this
day forward, call you Twig.”
Rafe said with a leer, “And I now, with the power invested in me as a
detective with Major Crime, do hereby pronounce you, Rolly Polly and you, Twig,
husband and husband. You may now give the junior detective from Prospect Avenue
turned to Henri and eyes wide, said, “Rolly Polly? Rolly Polly?”
Rafe, now you’ve gone and done it. He has—a weapon.”
his hands together with glee, Blair said with his own leer, “Oh, you bet I do.
Hey, Jim, what’s her name? Down in Community Affairs?” Grinning from ear to
ear, Jim said, “Cynthia.”
yes. The wonderful and leggy Cynthia. I do believe she deserves to know about
her ‘Rolly Polly’, don’t you, Jim?”
dropped his head into his hands and started moaning—loudly.
slapped him on the back. “Buck up, Brown, be a man. Rolly Polly isn’t so
narrowed, Henri fixed his captain with a glare. “No, sir, it isn’t.
should I say, *No, Mama Bear, it isn’t?”
leaned down, her face positively glowing. “Did you say, ‘Mama Bear’?”
cheerily, Brown said, “Yep. Hey, Joel, care to share with everyone just how
our super captain came to be called Mama Bear?”
rested his chin in his hand and said innocently, “Yeah, Joel, or should I say,
we seem to have started something, Jim.”
held up both his hands as if to ward off his partner. “Hey, don’t say we,
Kemosabe. You’re in this one all by yourself.”
took a sip of her drink, then said airily, “Anyone want to know Rafe’s
nickname in the locker room?”
fellow sister, I’ll give you five bucks if you’ll tell me.”
said, as she waved a five dollar bill in her compadre’s face.
took out his wallet and laid a ten on the table. “I’ll see that and raise it
nonchalantly plucked the ten off the table, tucked in his shirt pocket and said,
cringed and everyone started laughing.
that’s no fair,” Rafe whined.
say,” Rhonda said, “I stood to make fifteen bucks. Hey, Blair, how
don’t want to know, Rhonda, you don’t want to know.”
sent everyone into gales of laughter until Jim said, “Oh, Conner?
Care to share your nickname, as presented to you by Burglary last
blushed and waved a hand. “No, no, that’s all right. I think I’ll take a
Sandburg, Henri waved his wallet under Jim’s nose. “I’m willing to pay,
rubbed his fingers together and said, “Let me see the green stuff, Brown.”
shot another suspicious look at Sandburg, who shrugged helplessly and said,
“Hey, that was their bust, I was in the middle of finals, remember?”
Brown took out a five and waved it at Jim. “Okay, spill.”
Jim could say anything, Megan made a grab for the money, but Henri managed to
pull it away in time—only to have Sandburg grab it and say, “Treetops.”
LIED!” Brown yelled.
Blair said, “No I didn’t, but I did hear all about it from Detective Helman
a few days later.”
snorted. “Helman. Figures. Talk about short. He’s short in stature, short in
brains and he has a short—“ she stopped, blushed, then said, “Hey, I saw
him in the locker room, okay?” “Man, I have got to start spending some time
in the locker room, that’s all there is to it,” Rhonda quipped.
anyone could offer the proper retort, a man made his way through the crowd
yelling, “BLAIR SANDBURG? BLAIR SANDBURG?”
Blair raised his hand, saying, “OVER HERE!”
man spotted him and nodding, came up alongside and presented Blair with the huge
basket in his arms. “Delivery for Blair Sandburg. Sign here, please.”
open and gaze fixed on the basket and attached balloons, Blair held out his
hand. The clipboard was placed into it and without taking his eyes off the
flowers, he signed. The guy handed over the whole thing, tipped his hat and
was all Blair could say as he looked at the arrangement of white lilies. He
stared at the black ribbon woven through the greenery, reading the words in
gold, that said, “You only think you’re dead at thirty”, then his gaze
swept up to several black balloons, all proclaiming, “RIP” or “Over the
hill at thirty”.
he managed to get the basket on the table and once out of his arms, he was able
to take the small card out of the flowers. He flipped it over, read it, then
birthday, Chief,” Jim said, his eyes smiling.
Sandburg, happy thirtieth!” Simon added.
that, everyone started slapping him on the back and Rhonda and Megan quickly
excused themselves. While Blair was still speechless, the two women came back,
each with a cake in their hands.
birthday, Sandy,” Megan said as she put down his cake.
anniversary, Captain,” Rhonda said as she put down his cake.
and Simon looked at each other, then grinned.
let’s dig in!” they said together.
party that had become a birthday celebration as well as anniversary party was
finally winding down. Everyone’s internal clocks were telling them that it was
time to go home and their bleary eyes were yelling, “Designated driver!”
Rhonda, Megan and Rafe, the DD was Joel. For Henri and Simon, it was Jim. Blair,
thanks to remembering his new bike, had stopped drinking anything stronger than
coke after his first beer with a tequila shooter.
the gang stood and played shuffle the coats and jackets, Blair’s eyes fell on
his flowers and he groaned. Large floral arrangements didn’t usually go well
with motorcycles. And motorcycles didn’t come equipped with backseats.
Jim? Could we put these in the truck?”
Who do I leave behind? Simon or Henri?”
what’s wrong with the Volvo?”
nothing. Really. I’m sure it’s running fine.”
who’d been surreptitiously helping Simon on with his coat, stopped and stared
at Blair. “Um, Sandburg? Care to explain that remark?”
was drunk, but the detectives of Major Crime weren’t so drunk that they failed
to understand the meaning of I—um—well, sold—it.
turned, his coat now hanging from one arm and said, shocked, “You what?”
sold it. You know, like someone gives me money and I give them a car.
gave Sammy the Volvo, he gave me money.”
finally found his jacket—on Rhonda—and while he fished around for her blue
woolen coat, everyone else started talking.
couldn’t have—wouldn’t have,” Megan decried.
sold the Volvo? No way,” Rafe added.
sat down and thanks to a hand from Jim, his seat was actually the booth as
opposed to the floor. “Jim, he sold it. Blair sold the Volvo.”
so it seems.”
carefully extricated his new jacket from Rhonda, who looked at him dreamily and
said, “I’d take good care of it, Blair. It smells soooo good.”
well, I’m sure you would, Rhonda, but your coat is so much warmer and to tell
the truth, it’s not quite my style.”
giggled, let him put her in it, then she leaned into him, took a good whiff and
said, “You smell good too, just like your jacket. Have you always smelled this
good, Blair?” She batted her eyes. Blair rolled his.
took Rhonda’s arm, handed her over to Joel and said, “Yes, Rhonda, he has
always smelled this good. Say good-night now and trust me, in the morning, you
won’t remember a thing.”
waved as she said, “Good-night now. And I’ll remember Blair’s
on, Rhonda, let’s get you home—now,” Joel said with a chuckle. He nodded
at Jim, Simon, and Henri as he shepherded his flock out of the restaurant, Megan
and Rhonda straining to get a final glimpse of Blair’s assets.
last thing anyone could hear was Rafe—
sold the Volvo, you guys. And hey, I have a cute ass—look!”
smiled and shook his head, then helped Simon up again while Blair put on his
jacket and avoided looking at either man.
you really sold it?”
Simon, I really sold it.”
thought you loved that car.”
did, now I don’t. Now I love my—“
what?” Jim asked, his curiousity burning.
made it to the door, Jim handling Simon and Blair handling his arrangement. At
the shelves, Blair took down his helmet and held it up as he juggled his flowers
in his other arm.
a helmet, Chief,” Jim observed dryly.
lowered himself enough to get a good, drunken look and said with a firm nod,
“It most certainly is. Does this mean Sandburg bought a motorcycle, Jim?”
most certainly does.”
got the front door open, then smiled. “Oh, Chief?”
who’d been bringing up the rear and trying to track the conversation, peeked
around Jim and said, “Hell, yeah, it’s raining.
It’s wet out.”
fuck,” Blair said.
pulled up in front of Hooligans and honked. The door opened and Blair, flowers
and balloons in arms, came out. Jim reached over and opened the passenger door,
then settled back, and with a smile, watched his partner juggle the flowers as
he tried to get them and the balloons inside the truck. It took him several
minutes to position the basket and tie down the balloons so they wouldn’t
interfere with Jim’s ability to see, but when he was done, he collapsed on the
seat and pulled the door shut.
It’s not the only one spending the night under the protective awning of
good.” He shifted into drive and pulled out into the light, late night
Simon and Henri settled all right?”
nodded and grinned. “Yeah, but it wasn’t a pretty sight. I swear, I will
never try to put Henri to bed again. Simon wasn’t so bad, he just kept
muttering about detectives turning thirty and buying motorcycles in the Pacific
Northwest. But Henri, well, apparently when drunk, he can’t tell a big cop
from a leggy brunette.”
I’ve fought off bigger and badder suitors than him.”
couldn’t really see Jim through the leaves of his flowers, but he knew the man
was smiling. He grinned then took a big whiff and nearly choked. Shit, if the
smell of the lilies was bad for him—
Jim, how ‘bout stopping off at Cascade General and letting me drop these off
for one of the wards?”
spared a glance for his friend and grinned. “Oh yeah, lilies in a hospital
ward, Sandburg. Real good. I’m thinking the best you could do would be a
mortuary, sunny boy.”
shit. I didn’t think of that. Lilies wouldn’t be very cheering to someone
ill, would they?”
And why would you want to drop them anywhere? What, you don’t like ‘em?”
I’ve never received flowers for anything, I love them, but come on, buddy, the
smell. You’ve got to be dying right now.”
shook his head, smile still in place. “Nah. I’m dialed down. Don’t worry
about it. Just enjoy them.”
sure. And Chief?”
made the rest of the trip in almost complete silence until Jim couldn’t handle
his curiousity any longer—he had to ask.
to tell me about the changes? Or was it simply the whole turning thirty
you hear me, Blair?”
right next to you, of course I heard. There just doesn’t happen to be an
answer. I’m kinda stunned that there was a question. I cut my freakin’ hair
and bought a bike. So what? Surely the wild and wooley Blair Sandburg isn’t
that predictable that buying a new mode of transportation should be so
off,” Jim said as he checked his mirrors, “the best I’ll give you is funky
and flannelly, and second, how you felt about both the Volvo and your hair are
kind of legendary. And predictable? Not hardly. But still, even with someone as
spontaneous as you, well, there are things we come to rely on and you blew our
pretty sure flannelly isn’t a word.”
I’m trying to have a meaningful, Sandburgian conversation here, okay? Don’t
Jim, it’s no mystery. I had short hair for years before I met you, have had
long hair for three years now, I simply went back to the old me.”
quote the great Tim Taylor—‘More power’.”
the Pacific Northwest, Chief? You’ve severely limited yourself to good days
for using that thing. Unless you want to spend the majority of your
shoulders slumped. He hated it when Jim got practical. Which was most of the
time. He also hated it when Jim was right. Which, coincidentally, was also most
of the time.
his mood took a crash dive. Even trying to change, to add spice to the next
fifteen years, he’d screwed up. Blair ran his fingers through the short mess
of curls and grimaced. He’d
screwed up there too. He already missed his old look. God damn it, he probably
looked as idiotic as he felt.
pulled into his usual parking spot and turned off the lights and engine. He
didn’t move right away, instead apparently prefering to sit as the rain pelted
gonna make a dash for it, Jim?” Blair asked quietly.
guess we’d better. I should have known about the weather, I usually do.”
nobody’s perfect, not even The Sentinel of the Great City.”
snorted and opened his door, Blair doing the same.
go on three, I’ve got these flowers, I’ll go on five,” Blair said, a smile
in his voice.
Okay, I’ll take the flowers and we go on two.”
frowned. “Mm, Jim? How did we go from going on three, to you taking the
flowers and then going on two?”
rolled his eyes and reached for the flowers. Blair beat him and grabbed the
arrangment to his chest. “Uh-huh. My flowers, I carry them. Now go. And frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn if you go
on one, two or one hundred, just go!”
eyebrow arched, Jim shook his head, took a deep breath—and ran for it, the
door slamming behind him. Blair watched, then climbed out, flowers juggled with
the balloons. He kicked his door shut and started running.
the balloons got in his way.
feet flew up along with the flowers and when everything came down, Blair was
sitting—on his birthday present.
who was watching from the lobby door, quickly darted back into the street, his
jacket hunched over his head protectively. “Sandburg? You okay?”
I’m not, you idiot. And my flowers are ruined.”
ye-ah. You landed on them. But at least that cute ass of yours had a soft
landing. And you popped at least two of those balloons.”
you,” Blair said amicably. Then he stood, gazed down at the mess and bent over
to retrieve what he could.
salvagable, Chief. Let’s get it over to the trash.”
you’re right.” Shoulders once again slumped, Blair started for the alley and
the trash bins.
sound of wet leather and water logged shoes were about to cause a
chuckle—until Jim looked over his shoulder at the man responsible— the
was wet. All over. His short curls were plastered to his head, his new jacket
was slick with water, his shirt was plastered to his chest and water dripped
with every step. In his wet hand he held one relatively undamaged lily and in
his other, one limp balloon. A more miserable person Jim had never seen.
got the front door open and immediately turned on the heat, then as Blair
sloshed in, Jim hurried to the bathroom, grabbed two towels, then back to Mr.
Cold and Wet is My World.
let’s get the jacket off first, Chief.”
head down, started past Jim, but Jim was having none of it. He plucked first the
damp flower, then the balloon out of Blair’s hands and dropped them on the
table, then he grabbed the back collar of Blair’s jacket and tugged. Blair
moved and it came off. Jim smiled and immediately dropped one of the towels over
least with short hair, it’ll dry fast,” Jim offered helpfully.
just shrugged and started rubbing.
on, Chief, you need to get out of those—hey, those are new too,
they? New shirt, new slacks—“
pulled the towel down and shot Jim a suspicious look. “Okay, I suppose now
you’ve got a problem with my new clothes too, right?”
stepped back, hands raised. “No, no, honest. It’s just that—well,
come on, Chief. You know damn well that you usually wear layers or if not, then
things are kind of—baggy. Now you’re wearing,” he indicated the shirt and
slacks, “those. And they fit.”
you said, asshole.”
is this a second childhood thing?
if it is, I think you should know that you never actually got
get it, Jim. I never got out of the first one. Har-har.” Blair emphasized
Jim’ s point by sticking out his tongue. Then he turned and started for his
turned, towel in hand. “Yeah?”
expression went hard. “You’re seeing someone! That’s why the clothes, the
hair, the bike, all of it. You’re god damn seeing someone! Okay, who is she?”
you nuts, Jim?”
can’t fool me, that’s it, isn’t it?”
not seeing anyone, Jim. I just wanted—a change, that’s all. Just a change to
mark the movement out of one decade and into another. Period.”
narrowed his eyes. “You sure?”
sure. I think I’d know if I were dating someone. Okay, maybe not as quickly as
the Sentinel of the Great City—but eventually, I’d know.”
funny. My turn to say har-har.”
I go to my room now?”
out of here, you’re dripping all over the floor.”
saluted, entered his room—shut the door after him—and locked it.
mouth dropped open. He closed it. Then walked over to the French doors. “Hey,
you locked the doors!”
never lock the doors.”
FOR GOD’S SAKE, JIM!”
doors were thrown open and a shirtless Blair stood there, body stiff with anger.
‘SO WHAT IF I LOCKED THE FUCKING DOORS? SO WHAT?”
up his hands in a warding off gesture, Jim backed up. “Okay, okay, sorry.
Jeez.” Then his eyes spotted the bags on the bed. He moved forward until Blair
blocked his path. He looked over Blair’s head.
bought more new clothes!”
stared up at the ceiling and counted to ten. Then, “Yes, Jim,” he said
patiently, “I bought more new clothes. Dear me, call the FBI pronto.”
be a smartass. This is serious.”
put a hand on Jim’s chest as the older man started into Blair’s room.
“Tell me you’re kidding. Just tell me that. People buy new clothes all the
don’t. And if you do, it’s not from—shit—do those bags say
groaned and dropped his hand. “Man,
I don’t believe this,” he moaned as Jim moved past him to investigate the
clothing bags. “Jim, this is not a crime scene, you know?”
wasn’t listening. He was holding up a soft, pale green shirt, eyes wide and
is not flannel, Chief.”
getting the better of him, Blair reached out and snatched the item from Jim’s
hand. “Look buster, they’re clothes. JUST CLOTHES. And you are seriously
starting to piss me off here, you know?”
starting to piss you off, Chief? I’m not the one doing the complete and
unabridged version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
eyes narrowed dangerously, but before he could snap back at Jim, the older man
Sandburg, what’s next? You gonna turn me in on a newer, younger model? You
found a younger sentinel out there, uh? Some leggy blon—“ Jim stopped, tried
to retrieve the words, but they were out there and from the look on Blair’s
face, oh, yeah, it was way too late.
turned around, picked up a coat hanger from his bed and carefully hung up the
new shirt. Then he walked to his closet and slid it in among the few remaining
flannel shirts. With his back still turned toward Jim, he said quietly, “Jim,
there are some things in my life that I can’t change and in turning thirty, I
realized that. So I decided to change the things that I could. Pretty simple
felt like an ass. Until—
what can’t you change?”
doesn’t matter, okay? Let’s just drop it. I’m going to bed.”
finally turned around and without looking at Jim, he picked up the bags, set
them down on the floor, then sat down on the bed and started to take off his
watched from a distance that seemed suddenly to be worlds away.
It’s all this, isn’t it? You were staring at thirty and
that you faced years of being my back-up, of being a cop—“
couldn’t finish. Couldn’t begin to put words to this new reality.
never looked that far ahead, never dared look that far ahead.
now. Suddenly ill, he turned and hurried from the room.
stared at Jim’s retreating back, shock written all over his face.
Then one boot off and one still on, he jumped up and raced after his
wait! That’s not, listen, man—“
it, Sandburg.” Jim dropped down into the sofa and rested his head in his
stopped. Could he really screw up, or what? He moved to the back of the couch
and resting his hands there, Blair cleared his throat and said, “Jim, it’s
not that. Honest.”
Sandburg. Right. You never once considered the stretch of years, things as they
are now, stuck grounding some dumb shit sentinel. Of course not.”
stared at the back of Jim’s head, his mind reeling. “Jim, I had no
you even understood, that you knew—“
I knew I needed you for grounding? Haven’t I been listening to you for over
three years? Of course I know how much I need you to function.”
no, I didn’t know you’d been listening to me.”
still in hands, Jim said peevishly, “I always listen. I even learn.”
felt a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. He moved around the couch and
over to stand in front of Jim. He squatted down and placed his hands on Jim’s
legs. “Jim, it wasn’t the prospect of facing the next fifteen years like
this that spooked me, it was the prospect of facing the next fifteen
lifted his head and fixed his confused stare on his partner. “I’m not even
going to pretend to understand what you just said, Sandburg.”
I don’t mind the next fifteen years spent in a small room under the stairs.
Okay? But you see, it was the idea that it would be spent in the small room
under the stairs.”
supposed to figure something out now, aren’t I?”
sat back on his heels and shrugged his shoulders helplessly. “You change what
you can, man. That’s all.” Blair got up, patted Jim on the back, then went
to his room and closed the door behind him.
listened and was relieved when Blair didn’t lock it. He fell back against the
couch and rubbed his eyes. He just knew he was still supposed to figure
something out and that it was terribly important to both of them.
years. Fifteen years living with Jim. Working with Jim. Fifteen more years of
taking care of a sentinel. Suddenly Jim shot up, then stalked to the French
doors, opened them and stepped inside.
did you come up with fifteen years? Why not twenty? Or twenty-five?” he
was standing by his bed wearing only his shorts. In his hand he held his tee
shirt. At Jim’s question, the shirt dropped from his hands. “You are nuts, Jim.”
only fifteen?” Jim demanded again.
his eyes, Blair said in an exasperated tone, “I don’t know. I guess I just
figured you’d retire at about 55, that’s all. And once you retire, you
won’t need me so much.”
continued to stand there and he was looking at a puzzle and the parts were
floating just out of his reach so he examined them, tried to grab a hold of
them, but one of the pieces became Blair, standing by the bed in nothing but his
boxers—short, well-fitting boxers—and the other pieces faded as he found
himself concentrating on Blair—in his boxers.
boxers. Not baggy, like he usually wore—
Age 55. Changing what you can.
bedroom under the stairs.
foot seven. Compact body. Curling chest hair. Slender frame. Short dark curling
hair. High cheekbones. Thick lips. Changing what you can.
Age 55. Blue, blue eyes, thick lashes. Broad forehead. The bedroom under
smiled softly. “I wouldn’t retire without you, Sandburg. When I’m 55,
you’ll be 45. Would you retire with me?”
cocked his head. Then he smiled. “Yeah, yeah I would, Jim.”
took a step further into the room. “I could handle retirement with
Chief. But that’s still—“
years away. So in the meantime, maybe you’d consider changing your living
arrangments? Moving upstairs, perhaps?”
might. I mean, look at everything I’ve changed in the last five days.
think I could easily handle a simple move upstairs.”
shook his head. “No, not simple, Chief. Not simple at all.”
grinned and moved closer to Jim. “Sure it is, Jim. I got rid of almost all my
down at Blair’s upturned face, Jim reached out and took a short curl between
two fingers. He played with it, then said, “Simple then. So simple.”
for a change. This simple thing.”
took another step closer so that he was now almost standing against Sandburg. He
released the curl and ran a hand through the short hair.
“Thirty. You’re thirty.”
whispered, “Let it grow back, for me?”
don’t change anything else, okay?”
sheets. I’ll change the sheets. Often, I suspect.”
me sharing a bed? Oh, yeah, often. If we’re lucky, for awhile at least,
several times a day.”
began to studiously unbutton Jim’s shirt. “You could start on the slacks,
Jim,” he suggested helpfully. “Just so we—match.”
unbuttoned and unzipped and a minute later, he too was standing in his boxers.
ran his fingers through Sandburg’s short, damp curls and his smiled curled to
match. “Do you have any idea how sexy you look? And how young?”
off on that, are we?” Blair said with a knowing smile.
yeah. Big time.”
held his arms out to his side. “Go to town, buddy. For a while anyway, you can
pretend you have your very own twink.”
right, where the hell did you ever hear that word?”
leaned in and pulled Jim down closer to his level. “Wouldn’t you like to
eyes narrowed but before he could send back an answer, Blair kissed him. Deeply.
Blair finally let go, Jim said breathlessly, “Don’t change that either.”
Blair took Jim’s hand and led him out of his room and up the stairs. “You
know something, Jim? I just realized—I got you for my birthday. Pretty cool,
change that either, Sandburg.”