The usual. Not mine. And I'd really like to lick chocolate from Blair's
chest. Just thought I'd mention that.
Sorry, can't sing.
Yes. Not beta'd. Sorry :(
"No, man, I'm telling you, this will work. It's the only way."
Jim stared at his partner as if he'd never seen him before. "You're schizoid, Sandburg. Who knew?"
"I'm serious, Jim. It's the only way to save face tomorrow. The bullpen is gonna look like the Rose Parade, okay? Do you really want to be the only one at the station not getting anything? And it's not like other people won't be doing the same thing, man."
"Then those people are pathetic, Sandburg."
"Those pathetic people are us, Jim. You know damn well that every single detective in Major Crime will be getting flowers and candy all day and I really don't want those guys knowing that for the second year, Blair Sandburg is without, all right?"
Blair sat down on the arm of the couch next to Jim and added, "So this is how it goes down. You send me flowers, I send you flowers. You send me candy, I send you candy. We put 'Secret Admirer' on the cards, and we walk around with Cheshire grins plastered on our faces, okay? And by the way? I want the big, white satin, heart-shaped box of Mama Rose's Truffles and I'll get you the big pink tin of Almond Roca. Oh, and make my flowers," he stared up at the ceiling and tapped his lower lip with one finger, "white roses, one dozen, long stemmed -- oh, and I want one of those cuddly little bears too, you know? And you can add a special card that says, 'To my Blairbear', all right?"
Jim crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back in order to get a good look at his thoroughly unethical partner.
"How have I missed this less than sterling aspect of your character, Sandburg? I'm beginning to wonder which side of the thin blue line you really live on, buddy."
"Oh, for heaven's sake, Jim. Just do it, okay?" Blair bounced up and headed for the front door. As he took down his coat, he added, "There is no way the team of Ellison and Sandburg is going empty-handed on Valentine's Day. We may not be able to get dates, but damn it, no one needs to know that pathetic fact. Don't give me any guff on this, Jim, just do it."
With that, Blair Sandburg blew out the door.
Jim shook his head in disbelief. No fucking way was he buying that man a single bud. He wouldn't buy Sandburg a weed. So there.
The red roses arrived precisely at noon. The card said, "From your secret admirer."
Jim found himself preening as the hoots, hollers and whistles followed the huge vase of perfect roses to his desk. He puffed up like a peacock when he realized that his flowers were the biggest to have been delivered so far. Then he remembered who they were really from.
"Hey, Ellison, you've got yourself a hot one. When do we get to meet Miss Moneybags?"
Jim glanced over at Rafe and frowned. "Miss Moneybags?"
"Come on, man, don't tell me you missed the fact that there are eighteen roses, and they're in a real crystal vase? And from the looks of it, a hand cut one at that."
Jim looked. Damn, Rafe was right. It was a nice vase. A very nice vase.
He was gonna kill Sandburg.
At one, Sandburg hurried in, dropped his book bag on the floor, and fell into his seat. "Oh, man, you should see the university today. Delivery men coming and going, flowers, balloons, candy, heart-shaped pizzas, and damn, one guy actually had Wonderburger shape a couple of burgers into hearts and had them delivered to his girlfriend. I tell you, Valentine's Day brings out the beast... oops, sorry, the best of folks."
Connor sauntered over and plopped herself on the end of Blair's desk. "Take a look around you, Sandy. I'd say Major Crime could give Rainier a run for their money. Although, as of yet, no heart-shaped pizzas. But we do have a giant heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie that arrived for Simon early this morning. I think Amy baked it herself. I say that based on the fact that he wouldn't let us see the message written on the face of the cookie."
Blair glanced over at Simon's office, one eyebrow raised. "I bet I can get a peek at that cookie," he teased.
"Sandburg, can it," Jim said gruffly. "We have work to do."
A file immediately flew across the space between the two desks to land in front of Blair, who picked it up between two fingers. With his nose scrunched up, he said, "Uh, Jim? What's on this thing?"
Without looking up from his monitor, Jim said, "My meatball sandwich."
All right, Jim was officially feeling guilty. His Almond Roca arrived at two, but how it arrived sent a flush creeping over his face. The delivery man walked in holding a giant helium balloon fashioned to look like an air balloon. Red ribbons criss-crossed the top of the mylar and dropped down in the same manner as the ropes that held an air balloon's basket. Only instead of a basket, they held a large tin of the candy.
"Detective Ellison?" the delivery man asked.
Sheepishly, Jim raised his hand. He refused to look at Sandburg. As the candy was placed on his desk and he was asked to sign, the applause started.
"Oh, man, Ellison, you are so in the lead here," Brown commented as he got a good look at the ornate balloon. This really took imagination, man."
Okay, now Jim felt like a real heel. He shot a covert look at his partner and was stunned to see him grinning like a fool. Jim felt the headache start up behind his left eye. He was dead meat.
By four, it was apparent that Major Crime could have gone into the florist business. Not that the other departments weren't looking pretty festive themselves. But Major Crime really took the cake... and the balloons, and the flowers, and the candy, and yes, they'd even, finally, become the recipient of a heart-shaped pepperoni pizza, with the pepperoni also in the shape of tiny hearts, courtesy of Rhonda's erstwhile boyfriend. The only spot in the entire squad room that wasn't festooned with the symbols of the day... was the desk belonging to the Cascade Police Department's only "here on a ninety day pass that expired three years ago" observer.
But you couldn't tell from Sandburg's demeanor that he was the only person without a Valentine sweetheart. He bubbled over with happy energy every time someone else received yet another delivery, he oohed and aahed with the best of them, whistled at the appropriate times, and led the applause whenever a particularly beautiful arrangement arrived.
Jim, on the other hand, felt worse and worse as the day went on. If he could have, he'd have broken down and snuck out to make a few calls and order the flowers and candy for Sandburg, but so far, there'd been no chance.
He was starting to feel something else, too. He was actually hurting for his friend. Sandburg should have someone special to send him gifts and lavish him with goodies on Valentine's Day. Hell, every day. And why didn't he? What was wrong with the women of today? Didn't they see a good thing when it bounced, book bag and all, into their lives?
Couldn't they see how terrific he was? How unique? He looked around the room and shook his head. Not one person in this room could hold a candle to Sandburg. Not one. Yet whose desk was empty?
Okay, fine. So he'd give Blair Sandburg a Valentine's Day the younger man would never forget, and he'd do it without a single flower, candy, or heart-shaped anything.
He got up, grabbed their coats, and said "Come on, Chief, we're out of here."
Puzzled, Blair looked up and said, "Jim?"
"Day's over, partner, let's go. That report can wait until Monday."
"Oh, o-kay." Blair shut down the computer, put a few things away, then stood up and took his coat from Jim. As the older man started toward the door, Blair gave a little 'harrumph'.
"Your stuff, Jim?" Blair indicated the candy and flowers.
Feeling the heat of his embarrassment suffuse his cheeks, Jim mumbled, "Oh, yeah, those." He gathered up the flowers, then looked askance at the balloon and candy. No way could he carry both. He was still struggling with that concept when Sandburg picked up the candy. "Um, thanks, Chief."
"No problem," came the cheery answer.
"I'll just be a minute, Sandburg."
Jim jumped out of the truck and ran into the market. Since leaving the PD, Sandburg had been uncharacteristically quiet and none of Jim's lame attempts at conversation had worked. He'd tried to explain about not fulfilling his end of the Valentine's Day game plan, but Sandburg had simply waved him off with a quiet, "No worries, Jim." Now Jim had the feeling, as he zipped about the market, that his idea for a gourmet meal was far too little and way too late.
Jim gulped, but put the chateaubriand into the cart, along with a jar of the champagne glaze. Cringing only slightly, he then went to vegetables for the haricot verts. He picked up the bacon, the romaine lettuce, a chunk of parmigiano reggiano cheese, a small jar of anchovy paste, the other ingredients necessary for a Cesar dressing, a loaf of hot-out-of-the-oven French bread, and to top it all off, the Valrona chocolate required to make Sandburg's favorite brownie cupcakes. On the way to the check stand, he liberated a bottle of Bolinger's from the champagne section of the liquor aisle.
One hundred and seventy-three dollars later, Jim was hurrying out to the truck, arms full of grocery bags.
"Look, why don't you take a nice hot shower while I start something for dinner?"
Blair looked at the grocery bags and said, "something, Jim?"
Jim made a shooing motion as he said, "Go. I'm thinking... stir-fry."
With an odd expression on his face, Sandburg headed for the bathroom.
Grateful for the new water heater, Jim figured he had time to get the Cesar dressing made, the wooden salad bowl rubbed with garlic and anchovy, and the cupcake batter prepared.
He worked fast and was just pouring the batter into the cupcake tin when the bathroom door opened. He watched as Blair, towel over his head and another one around his slender waist, padded to the bedroom. Jim heard the sound of one of the towels as it hit the floor, then the normal noises associated with Blair dressing. He had plenty of time to get this meal going. Blair still had to dry his hair. Smiling, Jim went back to work.
The beans were washed and ready for steaming and the bacon that would be sprinkled over the beans, along with a little olive oil, had been cooked in the microwave and was now draining. The romaine had been torn into bite size pieces and the champagne glaze now coated the meat, which was waiting for its rendezvous with the broiler. He'd put the cupcakes in to cook just before calling his partner out to eat.
Jim glanced over at the vase of roses and got an idea. He took out six, trimmed their stems, then got one of the beautifully painted Peruvian pitchers from his cupboard. He filled it with water, then added the roses, and finally set the whole thing in the middle of the table. He rearranged the two candlesticks and nodded in satisfaction.
Man, he was good.
Grateful that Blair had decided to do some schoolwork in his room, Jim went back to readying dinner.
Everything was ready. Now he just had to get the guest of honor. Jim walked over to the French doors, which were open, and standing just inside, said, "Chief? Dinner's ready."
Blair looked up from his computer and smiled. "Cool. Did I smell bacon cooking earlier?"
"A surprise. Now get up and get out here. I want to eat while everything is still hot." His smile took any possible censure from his words.
Blair nodded and pushed away from his small desk. As he stood, he said in a serious tone, "Jim? I have... a confession, of sorts."
Turning back, Jim leaned against the wooden frame and tilted his head. "A confession? You?"
Blair rolled his eyes at the humor in Jim's tone, then said, "About the whole... Valentine's Day... plan? You know, the one where I fool everyone by buying you something, and you fool everyone by buying me something?"
Jim stepped into the room and held up a hand. "Wait. I'm the one who didn't do what he was supposed to, yet you have something to confess?"
Jim watched in amazement as Blair actually shuffled his feet.
"See, the whole idea had... well, I had an ulterior motive, see? And while I hoped you'd buy me stuff, I really didn't expect you to, see?"
Jim was underwater. That was the only explanation. "Um, Chief? Run that by me again?"
Making a disgusted sound, Blair looked up and said, "I only came up with the idea to give me an excuse to actually buy you Valentine stuff, you asshole. I wanted to be your Valentine. Get it now?"
"Are you telling me that you're actually my real secret admirer?" Jim said, astonished.
"Um, well, er... yeah."
"Is that all you have to say? Just, 'I see'?"
"Not quite." Jim took the two steps necessary to bring him close enough to Sandburg to grab his arm. He led him out and positioned him in front of the dining room table.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Chief."
Blair stared at the table laid out with Jim's best dishes, and at the flowers and candles burning brightly. He scratched his head and finally said, "What, you were feeling guilty or something?"
"Or something. Mostly I was feeling that if anyone deserved a great Valentine's Day, it was you. I decided that the women of Cascade are idiots, and that if they can't see a good thing right under their noses, well, I can."
Jim had his hands on Blair's arms and now he turned him around. He started to speak, but Sandburg started laughing.
"What's so funny?"
Blair calmed down enough to say breathlessly, "Jim, I had more possible dates tonight than I could count. Hell, I could have been on a date with the women of Cascade, and a few men come to think of it, every night of the week for the last year, but hello? I'm in love with you, you putz."
"You know, Sandburg, these endearments of yours are really zinging straight to my heart. You're bowling me over with your affection," Jim commented dryly.
"What can I say? I'm a romantic kind of guy. Now what's for dinner?"
"Obviously that old adage about the way to a man's heart being through his stomach is true. Sit down and enjoy. Your heart is about to become mine." Jim walked into the kitchen and as he pulled the chateaubriand out, he added, "Eat your heart out, Emeril."
"Jim, I don't think Emeril is the least bit interested in my heart... or yours, so feed me already, and then I'll show you the scar left over from the branding the Moributi did when they welcomed me into their tribe." Blair sat down and as Jim exited carrying the platter with the meat, he added, "It's on my left ass cheek."
Jim managed not to stumble.