Brian Marshall glanced up from the piece of paper in his hand, to the building across the street. Yes, 852 Prospect. This was it. He shoved the paper back in his pocket and after checking for traffic, jogged across Prospect and entered the lobby.
Once inside, he noted the mailboxes and confirmed the address. #307 - Jim Ellison. Whoops. Jim Ellison *and* Blair Sandburg. Marshall experienced a moment of trepidation. Jim Ellison, living with someone?
Had he found that special someone? It was enough to almost turn Marshall away. Almost. But he hadn't come this far to be put off by a second name on a mailbox label. He squared his shoulders and walked over to the elevator.
He pushed the "up" button and waited. And waited. After two minutes, he looked around and 'then' noticed the very small sign.
*Elevator - Out of Order*
And someone had scrawled across it:
"It's always out of order, man."
The pleasant voice came from behind him and he turned to look down into smiling blue eyes, blinking back at him from behind silver-rimmed glasses. The eyes belonged to a short, handsome young man, somewhere between 25 and 30, with long, curly hair. His arms were full of groceries.
"Oh. So it's the stairs, then?"
"Well, I used to fly up, but then the building armed itself and yes, I changed to using the stairs. Safer."
"Ah, yes. Stairs."
By unspoken agreement, the two men started up.
"Second floor?" The handsome young man enquired.
"You visiting the Wahlers?"
"The Wahlers? No."
The young man stopped, frowning.
"Oh, man. I hope you're not here to see Maggie, because, well, she's in Hawaii. On her..... honeymoon."
Marshall had to laugh at the beautiful man's attempt at tact.
"No, not Maggie, and do you know *everyone* in the building?"
"Natch. I *live* here."
Brian shook his head in wonder. And he didn't doubt for a minute that this friendly "puppy" did indeed know everyone, while he knew 'maybe' two people in his building back in Manhatten.
Something must have begun to bother the other man, because his frown deepened.
"So if it's not the Wahlers or Maggie....then you're here to see Jim?"
A small tinkling of bells went off in Marshall's brain, at the way the 'puppy' had said Jim's name. He'd sounded ~ proprietary. It was time for a little subterfuge.
"Are you Blair?"
The look in 'Blair's' eyes told him a great deal, as he hadn't been able to hide the surprise or the puzzle. He had all the subtlety of a three month old baby.
"Uh, yeah, I'm Blair - Sandburg."
Brian stuck his hand out and jovially added, "Of course you are, I should have realized. I'm Brian." And he managed to say it as if Blair should know, which of course, he couldn't. He fully expected Blair to immediately admit said lack of knowledge, thus putting the first wedge in his relationship with Jim, but the kid took him completely by surprise with his next words.
"Oh, *Brian*, of course. Come on up, Jim isn't home yet, but he's due any minute."
For a moment, Brian felt just a tad guilty, the kid was so polite, trying to make him feel welcome, like he knew who he was....but then the thought of Jim Ellison, and the reason Brian was here, drove all guilt away.
"Great, lead the way."
They went up the final flight, as Brian graciously took one of the bags out of his rivals arms, smiling broadly.
"Can I get you something to drink? A beer maybe?"
Blair had dumped the groceries on the counter and offered Jim's guest a seat, where Brian was currently residing.
"A beer would be perfect."
Brian looked about him, surprised at the homey atmosphere. This wasn't the home of the Jim Ellison he'd known. Not the cool, aloof Ellison of 15 years ago. Maybe Jim had finally let the warmth and passion he'd exhibited in bed, spill out into his life?
He noticed a pile of books on the coffee table in front of him and curiously picked one up. Anthropology? Books on Anthropology? Jim?
A brown blur presented itself in front of him and he realized Blair was handing him his beer.
"Those are mine. I'm an anthropologist. Going for my doctorate at Rainier."
Okay, not Jim's type at all. An intellectual? Short and brainy? Nope, not Jim's type at all. He took the beer and said, "Thanks. This should hit the spot." And he proceeded to down it in three swigs.
Blair had moved back into the kitchen and was busy putting groceries away when Jim came home.
"Hey, Sandburg, you beat me after all."
Brian stood, and smiled inwardly. That was not the greeting of a lover. Blair Sandburg was no rival. He stepped around the couch and said, "Jim."
Blair sat at his desk, fuming. The laughter coming from the livingroom was slowly driving him crazy. He thought back to Jim coming home.
Everything had been so nice, until Brian Marshall had said, "Jim," with such a ~ proprietary air. Like a fucking lover, so husky, so full of promise, so full of ~ history. And so full of shit. And when Jim looked at Brian, Blair Sandburg had ceased to exist. Totally invisible as the two men approached each other and hugged. *Hugged*!!! Jim Ellison hugging. And then they were talking a mile a minute, exclaiming, "You look so goood," and, "Haven't changed a bit, the years have been good to you..." and, "Less hair...but it looks good on you...." and "What the hell have you been doing?"
Then Marshall had said something about a drink and dinner and as Blair stood there, a can of tomatoe sauce in one hand and a can of water chestnuts in the other, the two men left. Just like that. Left.
Blair had thrown both cans against the door.
And now, five hours later, *Five fucking hours later*, the two men were home, and laughing up a storm.
They'd arrived pleasantly blitzed, a bit stumbling, jovial and discussing the good old days. Which as far as Blair had been able to tell, included Jim's time in the Military, especially Covert Ops. And that was really weird, because those were times that Blair would never have categorized as "the good old days." But then Brian Marshall had kissed Jim. And it had been a hell of a kiss. Blair knew, because he'd stood there, tongue on the floor, and watched. Watched as Marshall attempted open mouth surgery, as he mined for gold and they'd made a real event out of it and so Blair had finally been left with no doubt as to "why" those days were now viewed as the good old days.
They'd ended the kiss and Jim had pulled back, smiling like a buffoon, which made Blair want to yell, "GAG ME, SOMEONE!" but instead, he'd smiled, with all the charm he'd possessed, like it didn't bother him a bit that some guy had had his tongue half way down Jim's throat, *his* Jim's throat, and he smiled like he wasn't suddenly revising his passivist leanings and considering jumping up on a chair and punching Brian Marshall's lights out or kicking Jim Ellison's very fine butt from here to Timbuktoo and then Jim had looked at him, all goofy and said, "Hey, Chief, you should have come with us."
O-okay, he'd stand on the chair and punch *both* their lights out.
"Gee, Jim," he'd said, the very model of a sincere anthropologist,"I would never intrude on a reunion. I'm off to grade papers, so you guys be good."
So cool. So fucking, Cary Grant-cool. Smiling, beaming acutally, so happy for the two men, getting together after all those years. And wondering why Brian Marshall couldn't have come, oh, say, a week earlier? *Before* they'd shut down that white slavery ring.
He'd made his gracious exit and just caught the hooded look of satisfaction on Marshall's face and he'd wondered if he knew of any hit men, like Zoeller, that *wasn't* in jail?
The laughter out front stopped abruptly, followed by the creaking of the couch and *two* pairs of footsteps going up to Jim's room.
Okay, he could handle this. He could. Especially if he could refrain from imagining what was happening up there. Like Marshall, slowly peeling off Jim's shirt, revealing that incredible chest, running his hands over those pecs.....
Don't think about pink elephants. In plaid boxers and wearing a Jags cap.
And sure enough, a parade of pink elephants wearing plaid boxers and a Jags cap, trundled across his mind. He had to grin. He pushed back his chair, slipped on his headphones and flopped down on his bed, ready to let the music soothe the savage breast ~ and beast.
Except what he got was David Cassidy, and "I Think I Love You." Swell. He started to throw the earphones across the room, when the words hit him.
"I'm sleeping and right in the middle of a good dream, like all at once I wake up, from something that keeps knocking at my brain,"
"before I go insane, I hold my pillow to my head and spring up in my bed, screaming out the words I dread":
"I think I love you."
"This morning, I woke up with this feeling..."
<of loving Jim Ellison?>
"I didn't know how to deal with..."
< Another guy?>
"And so I just decided to myself, I'd hide it to myself, and never talk about it and not go and shout it, when you walked into the room."
"I think I love you."
"I think I love you."
"So what am I so afraid of?"
<Brian Marshall, asshole>
"I'm afraid that I'm not sure of, a love there is no cure for...."
<Short of committing Hari Kari, but that's real messy and involves entrails and lots of blood and I'm sure there is a houserule about no blood>
"I think I love you, and isn't that what life is made of, tho' it worries me to say, I've never felt this way...."
"I don't know what I'm up against...."
<Brian Marshall, big, buff, shared memories, shared fucking>
"I don't know what it's all about...."
<Me and Brian, and who gets Jim>
"I've got so much to think about...."
<Like how to kill Brian Marshall and hide the body from a Sentinel>
"Hey, I think I love you."
"Believe me, you really don't have to worry, I only want to make you happy....."
<Deliriously happy - Jello pudding happy>
"And if you say, hey go away, I will...."
<Like Hell I will - guess again>
"But I think better still, I'd better stay around...."
<Now you're talking, David. Super glue me>
"And love you til you think I have a case, let me ask you to your face, Do you think you love me?"
<Oh, yeah. He's gone. I'm way too cute to ignore>
Light bulbs, banjos, horns, whistles, bells ringing, lightening striking, steam rollers, dawn breaking, forehead slapping, epiphanies, ah-ha's......
Blair Sandburg loved Jim Ellison.
Which meant Brian Marshall had to go. Because there'd been two light bulbs ~ Jim Ellison loved Blair Sandburg.
Blair had the sudden, hysterical desire to draw a huge heart on a blackboard, with the initials; J & B and an arrow shot through the middle. He smiled foolishly at *that* picture, then he got a sudden fit of the giggles and fell back, pulling a pillow over his head and kicking his legs wildly.
Until a "Garden of Eden" type snake spoke up....
"Who says....ssss.....Jim loves.....sssss....you?
He shot straight up, looked around, pillow and giggles forgotten.
"Why shouldn't he?"
But reason prevailed and hope and optimism, Blair's best traits......
"Because he does, that's why. I know it. And unless you have a sudden desire to become a wallet, or a pair of shoes, get out of my dreams."
The snake slithered away.
Blair collapsed back onto his pillow, sighing loudly. His thoughts whirled about him, exhausting him and he finally fell asleep, having formed no brilliant plan to save Jim, but with really cool visions of he and Jim, rolling around on the sand, waves crashing over them and it should have been really cold and really wet and really uncomfortable, but instead it was just really erotic.