The night outside was wet and miserable but inside was warm. Warm apartment, warm bed, a warm body half on top of him, half alongside him. Blair sighed contentedly, and let his breathing and heartbeat settle into calmer rhythms. Jim moved off him before lying on his side and dragging Blair snugly against his chest.
“I always did peg you for a cuddler, even before I had empirical evidence,” Blair said softly.
“Thought about it a lot, did you?” Jim asked, his tone amused, and his breath warm, yes, so warm, Blair couldn’t imagine ever being cold again with experiences like this stored in his head.
“No… well, not that way,” he said, and then a different sort of heat ran through him, because, that was embarrassingly true, in a weird, somewhat obfuscating, maybe almost… untrue sort of way?
“Is that so?” Jim asked, clearly unconvinced. Blair completely understood that, but he still stared across the rumpled bed, and then looked down at Jim’s arm tucked under Blair’s arm and wrapped across his chest, and had a reverse epiphany: the realisation that he truly hadn’t considered this, except in the most idle, supposedly ‘intellectual’ way, but there’d been no hesitation when Jim had kissed him. Quite the reverse. “I think I smell burning,” Jim said.
“What? Where?” Blair pulled away and turned in alarm, to see Jim’s face turn wry and rueful.
“Settle down. I meant in there.” Jim tapped one finger gently at Blair’s forehead.
“Oh,” Blair said blankly, before he lay down again with a muttered, “Putz.” His irritation didn’t stop him from attempting to nestle into Jim. He shut his eyes, and ran one hand up and down Jim’s side, finding the solid muscle of the torso, the smooth line of hip, a little excursion over one strong buttock and up again to his starting point, where he launched new explorations, this time over chest and shoulder and collar bone.
“Have fun, Chief, but don’t get any expectations. This old man needs some beauty sleep.”
Blair should really think about how Jim needed no such thing, and distract himself from the questions gathering in his head. But he had a feeling he’d been distracting himself too long. “How did you know? That I was thinking about something?”
“Because you’re always thinking about something?”
“No, seriously. Muscle tension? Heart rate? Scent?”
“I’m not in the mood to analyse. I recognise Blair Sandburg in the middle having Important Thoughts, okay? Although I don’t know why you’d need to have them after some good sex. A man could get a complex.” This was said with droll self-deprecation, but Blair wasn’t fooled, and cursed reverse epiphanies, because he just had to be mind-numbingly dumb enough to have it lying in bed with the gorgeous human lie detector. Blair liked to get carried away on a wave of wild ideas, knowing as well as anyone that sometimes they didn’t lead anywhere useful, but still, the ride was fun. But Jim, Jim liked his reasoning more directed, more locked-down as it were, and Blair didn’t want to blurt anything hurtful in the first flush of exploring a concept.
First things first. “Yeah, it was good sex. Great sex even,” he said with a look through his lashes and another caress to Jim’s very impressive chest. “And I guess that was part of it. We could have been doing this a lot longer, and I was just…” he paused a moment. “Man, there is no just about it, I am completely baffled as to why I never figured things out earlier.
They were lying face to face on their pillows, and Jim quirked one brow. “So would that be repression or suppression?”
“God I hate it when you’ve been paying attention to me.”
“Actually, no you don’t.”
Score another point for Jim, and also score at least some self-awareness for Blair, because he’d always known that. Always liked having Jim’s attention, Jim’s acceptance of Blair’s suggestions; being listened to; being looked at, especially now with that gentle fondness, like Jim didn’t mind that Blair was fumbling like an idiot about how he never picked up the very obvious fact that he was ridiculously in love with Jim. Blair acknowledged the point with a peck on Jim’s nose, and said with sigh, “It was repression on an epic scale, man. Suppression implies that you actually know what you’re feeling but you consciously put it away.” Jim’s expression changed and his gaze dropped. Someone here, at least, had known what he wanted, even if he hadn’t admitted it. That made Blair feel only a little better and he gripped firmly at Jim’s arm. “I was so fucking clueless, and I’m sorry about that.”
Jim pushed a strand of hair back from Blair’s face. “You know, Sigmund, I think you’ll figure it out pretty fast now that you’ve defined the problem, but do you want to hear my theory?”
Blair mustered gravity because it might just hide the nervousness. From Jim. Yeah, right. “At this stage, I think you’ll find that it’s just a hypothesis.”
“Oh, hypothesis?” Jim said. “Here’s another fancy-schmancy word for you, Chief. Sublimation. You didn’t have to think about what your feelings were about Jim Ellison, because you had a lot of very intense feelings about The Sentinel that you could accept just fine. And if the thrill of intellectual discovery turned a little physical on you sometimes, that’s because you’re a healthy guy with a high sex drive and energy has to go somewhere, right?”
These quiet words relayed two key concepts. Firstly - that Detective James Ellison was no fool. The second - “That makes me sound kind of an asshole.” And this concept, very key indeed, would be why Blair hadn’t been able to put two and two together until this small emotional debacle.
“Yeah, you can be, but then so can I.”
This acknowledgment didn’t comfort Blair. Epiphany rolled back into the past, and Blair saw all the fragile points where his cluelessness and Jim’s swallowed feelings had left sore places, and nearly broken them once or twice. “That’s the how. It’s not the why.”
“Well, I guess the why would be that you were scared.”
And great, Blair could look back on fear-based responses and add projection to the list of psychological failings. Because now epiphany rolled on into the future and revealed all the risks. He and Jim still had their issues. It looked like not talking about important things remained one of them. And Blair… Blair had maybe looked at guys, thought about guys, but he’d never really thought of himself as into guys, or Jim, until Jim had descended on him like an avalanche. An avalanche of sex, yes, but it had taken being swept upside down and off his feet almost literally to make Blair admit that this was something he wanted.
“Yeah.” Blair swallowed. “I… uh… I thought I was better than that. Not the being scared part, the not admitting why I was scared part.” And now he’d successfully dulled the afterglow for both of them.
“I wasn’t really thinking when I started this, was I?” said Jim.
“Like I’d been thinking when I didn’t start anything at all?” But for all the discomfort filling him, Blair kept on holding on to Jim, which was nothing new in the last few years, and Jim kept holding on to him, and that was both familiar and so very welcome. “I’m not sorry we did this. I’m not.”
Some of the tension eased. “Good, because neither am I.”
“It was great,” –Blair took a breath- “but now we have to talk, about all kinds of things, and I feel like such a chump, except the person who played me is me. But not right now, because I am not that much of a chump, Jim.”
Jim nuzzled gently along his temple. “Nobody here is a chump, Blair. And if there is,” -Jim rested against him forehead to forehead- “god knows I played myself often enough too.”
A heavy sigh wafted across his skin. “It always was inevitable. Sure.” A heavy sigh, but warm on Blair’s skin, a breeze that might blow him along those waves of ideas and maybe find a landfall that suited them both.