Today was his first day. First *real* day. Felt like the first day of school. Shit, shouldn't have said that. But it did. Getting all jittery, wondering if the other kids would like him, would play with him....and he had to smile at that one. He could so easily imagine the conversation:
"Hi, I'm Blair. Wanna play ball?"
And big Henri Brown, looking down at him, smiling that grin of his, "Sure Hairboy, but can you catch?"
And wasn't *that* the real question? Could Blair Sandburg catch?
He looked at himself in the mirror and couldn't help but remember years past, looking at younger reflections, *knowing* that others would find him weird, different, but stubbornly insisting on *not* changing, staying with who he was, how he looked. The long hair, the strange clothes, the different items he wore, even as a small child, items that symbolized where he'd been......what he believed, and sometimes, just ~ souvenirs.
And how he almost always *liked* what he saw in the mirror. How no one had ever been able to change that liking, that acceptance of who Blair Sandburg was.....oh, he'd had his doubts over the years, more than his share of insecurities, fears, but somehow, the Blair in the mirror always won. Survived. *Perservered*.
And now? Did he still like the guy across from him? Was he still true to himself? Could he still exist at the new "school"? Or was this school too tough? Was he fooling himself? Fooling Jim? Would he have to submerge who he was, to survive?
Or could the Blair Sandburg he once knew, could that Sandburg catch? Or maybe he just needed to completely reinvent Blair? Of course, if he were honest with himself, he'd already started. Reinventing. Changing. Getting older.
Had the old Sandburg been a mere product of youth? Or had he been something more? It was true, he'd seen a lot in the last few years, but he'd seen a great deal *before* he'd met Jim. Terrible native wars, the horrible ways and means men had of killing each other, their greed, their corruption. No, he hadn't needed these last years to see that, to know that it existed. Hadn't needed the last years to mature him, change him. These years with Jim had only added dimension, right?
So who had he been? A man a step behind? Or a step ahead? Or on a different road altogether, setting his own pace?
The biggest fear when he was a child, facing that reflection, had been whether he would disappoint his mother. Somehow that he would fail to *be* who he was, that he would surrender. But he never had. And eventually the only person he didn't want to disappoint, had been himself.
But now? Now there was Jim. His partner. His *real* partner. Jim's life, in his hands.
Could any of the Blair's catch?
He knew he would die for Jim. He loved him with all his heart and soul. And he'd come to terms with the gun and holster, resting on the big bed upstairs, waiting for him. But dammit, could he, would he, be able to catch?
Jim believed he could and would. Simon believed. They all believed.
And so did he.
Blair Sandburg could play a mean game of ball.
Then he smiled at the serious, mature Blair staring back at him.
But the real Blair Sandburg had *always* played differently than others. Always. That was who he was. Play the game, but play your way. Add the little Blair nuances, the Blair imagination, the Blair touch.
There were so many Blair Sandburgs. And they all had their place. And they all lived comfortably inside this body. They melded into one, good, decent, caring human being. A man Jim Ellison could love. A man Simon Banks could respect. A man who *could* play catch with the best of them. Just ~ play ~ different.
He scrutinized what he was wearing. And smirked. This was not any of the Blair's currently residing in his body. Nope. Some major overhauling was needed.
Sandburg left the bathroom and ran past Jim, who tried to drop a kiss, but even Sentinel timing couldn't help and the kiss landed in the air.
"Sandburg? We're gonna be late."
"Just another second, some minor adjustments, man."
Ten minutes later Detective Blair Sandburg came downstairs, ready for his first day at school.
Jim looked at him for a moment, then walked over and reached out one tentative hand.
Blair's hair was now down, framing his face, and Jim's fingers traveled through the waves.
"You haven't worn them in quite awhile, Chief."
"Yeah, I know. But ~ now, I am."
Jim lovingly fingered the two gold hoops.
"I missed them."
"Miss all three of them?"
Ellison's head tilted, one eyebrow raised.
"All three? You're wearing that one too?"
"I'm gonna have to interrogate you later, to see for myself, you understand."
"No problem, I'm up for a good interrogation, could use some tips on technique."
And Blair slipped past his partner and started for the door.
"Chief? I like the tennis shoes too."
And the real Blair Sandburg tossed one last line over his shoulder to his lover.
"Yeah? Well, a guy's gotta be comfortable, you know?"
Detective Blair Sandburg, followed by his partner, Detective Jim Ellison, headed off to work.