Nature's Relations

by Francesca

Disclaimers: Nothing's mine but the words; everything else belongs to Pet Fly. No infringement is intended, and I'm not makin' a dime. (Who needs money when you've got love?) (Well, okay, but I'm still not making any money!) Please go away if you're under 18!

Summary: In which Blair & Jim get it from both sides. Oh yeah, and in the truck. ;)

Warnings: None. Maybe language. I've got a fairly foul mouth, sorry.

Notes: Good morning, this is Francesca, your cruise director. Welcome to the new arc. This follows Nature's Reversals.

"Wow, Jim. Wow. That's like, so incredible that you were able to share that with me," said Naomi Sandburg, sincerely, and her son, Blair Sandburg, picked up his water glass and took a deep draught to keep from laughing as he looked at the blank expression on his partner's face.

"Um, well, thanks, Naomi," said Jim, looking down and adjusting the napkin on his lap, uncomfortably.

"It really is, Jim," said Naomi, studying Jim's face with concentration. "I mean, considering the way you were raised, the worlds in which you've been socialized — it's wonderful that you're able to express your feelings like this."

"Uh, yeah," said Jim, clearing his throat. "Uh, Blair's been, you know, really crucial to that. He's helped me work on getting in touch with my, uh, inner, uh..." Jim glanced at Blair hopefully, but Blair just stared back at him with amused, expectant eyes. "My inner something," said Jim finally, thinking, "Thanks a lot, Blair!"

"No, I can see that," said Naomi, sighing. "And I suppose that I ought to be grateful to you for helping Blair learn to connect with people. Though as an armed agent of the law...oh my. I am relaxed," she breathed. "I am letting this go."

"Blair never seemed to need help connecting with people," said Jim, laughing.

"Oh, of course he did," said Naomi blithely, glancing at her son, and Jim noted that Blair was shifting uncomfortably in his seat. "I mean, I'm all for inner contemplation, but Blair's always lived a bit too much in his own head — "

"Mom — " objected Blair.

"Well, you did, dear. You always did — and you can't live your life in a book, now can you? I mean, I know it was partially my fault — the way we lived, moving around so much — you couldn't help but get the idea that books were more real than people — "

"I never thought that!" Blair whined.

"Of course you did, dear," replied Naomi. "What else could you have thought? Everyone came and went too quickly for you to get to know them very well — but you could always reread your books." Naomi smiled sweetly, sympathetically, at her son. "I mean, why do you think you're an anthropologist, anyway? Why are you so fascinated with people?" she asked, her delicate hands bursting open like little exploding firecrackers. "Face it, dear, they're like aliens to you — subjects of study. Jim, you'll laugh," said Naomi, turning to him, "but I actually completely missed the fact that you two were in love. I thought — " and here she stopped and giggled. "Well, I thought that Blair had simply decided to study you for a while," and Jim shot a glance at his partner and noticed that Blair was actually turning purple. "I never thought that you two were actually lovers, because — well, don't take this the wrong way, sweetie," she said to Blair, "but I didn't think you had the attention span."

"Breathe, Blair," murmured Jim, smiling.

"Oh God," said Blair, hiding his face in his hands.

"There were never very many other children in the places we lived," Naomi confided to Jim, leaning in close to him. "So I think that when Blair got to college he sort of overcompensated — you know, he had to know everyone." Jim held her eyes, nodded earnestly at her, hearing Blair's soft stifled moans. "Still, Blair," she added brightly, "you've made a very good job of it — he has, Jim, hasn't he? He's developed real insight into people and how they work — I'm sure you're a very good anthropologist, darling."

"Breathe, Blair," Jim repeated softly.

"And I'm just delighted that you two are together, I really am," said Naomi. "It means that Blair's finally learned how to stay the distance with someone — and that must be something you taught him, Jim. He certainly never learned it from me." She looked at her son, took his hand. "Honey, I know this will sound hypocritical coming from me, but I'm just so happy you've decided to settle down with someone. I mean, I'm enjoying my life — I've always enjoyed it — but that didn't stop me from worrying about you. After all, you were fucking an awful lot of people, sweetheart — and all it takes is one bad apple."

Jim choked on his coffee and sputtered, and Naomi turned to him. "But it's true, Jim, isn't it? One bad apple to break my angel's heart. But that's all done with, now, isn't it?" she said, smiling at Jim. "And I suppose it really isn't my business anymore," she sighed. "If Blair wants to share your job with you — I guess I don't have anything to say. Though you know, Jim, I would have been much happier if you were, say, a sculptor. Or a journalist. Or just about anything else."

"I'm sorry, Naomi," murmured Jim. "I was never very artistic."

Naomi waved his apology away. "Nobody's perfect," she replied, and then laughed. "Though I really should have figured — with this whole police thing — I should have figured out that sex came into it somewhere."

"I have to go to the bathroom," said Blair abruptly, leaving the table.

"Naomi, I need Blair as my partner," said Jim. "In every way."

Naomi nodded. "I hear that. But you'll protect him, won't you?" she asked, eyes begging.

"With my life. I swear," replied Jim seriously.

"And emotionally too," added Naomi. "He had to grow up so fast — maybe it was wrong of me, but I wanted him with me all the time, I loved him so much. So he went a lot of places that children probably shouldn't go — saw a lot of things that children maybe shouldn't see. I guess it was selfish of me — it never occurred to me at the time that he was — well, lonely, you know?"

"I know," said Jim softly.

"It honestly never occurred to me — and then, when it did — well, he was just so smart, it made sense to put him in college early — at least I knew where he was," said Naomi, running a nervous hand through her shiny red hair. "And the teachers there seemed to understand him — -god knows, I didn't understand him half the time," she said.

"You got half?" asked Jim, smiling.

"Maybe half," she admitted. "Or at least a quarter," she amended with a smile. "Look, I've never claimed to be an intellectual. But I'm his mother — and I don't understand him. And I don't think now that his teachers did, either. Who else is there? His lover. You. Someone has to care enough to figure out — "

Naomi stopped suddenly, looked up, smiled brightly as Blair approached the table.

"Do I even want to know?" asked Blair, ruefully, sitting down.

"I was just telling Jim about that time when we went to see those awful punk bands in New York with that guy I was seeing — "

"Xavier," said Blair.

"That's right, Xavier," said Naomi. "And then we couldn't find you and I was so worried and then there you were! Asleep in a pile of leather jackets, curled up without a care in the world." She laughed. "Jim, he was so cute — just blissfully sleeping away while the band went WHANG WHANG WHANG!! on their guitars and that awful man kept screaming."

"In hindsight, you know, that's a depressing story," Blair said to Jim. "I think I slept through the Sex Pistols at Max's Kansas City. Which I regret, really."

"Oh, they were terrible," said Naomi. "You didn't miss a thing."

"But Naomi, that was a definitive cultural moment — " objected Blair.

"Bosh," said Naomi. "Just yelling and screaming. I'm telling you, I was there."

"Okay, okay," relented Blair. "We'll have to agree to disagree on this. So now what? Where are you heading?"

"Mmmm, India, I think," replied Naomi. "There's this ashram that I'm interested in — the guru is called Swamiji — "

"I've heard of him," said Blair. "But he's supposed to be really negative — the world is going to hell, Shiva's gonna punch you out, that sort of thing."

"Yeah, I heard that too," said Naomi, "but other people have said that he just comes across that way because he's traditional in his beliefs. Amy said that she thought he had real power — she said she came back really cleansed."

"Well, good luck," said Blair. "I hope you enjoy it."

"Yeah, I hope you get, um, clean or whatever it is," added Jim.

Naomi smiled at him and said, "Thanks, Jim," and then she bent over the table and added, "How about a kiss for your old mother-in-law?" and Jim leaned over and kissed her cheek.

"Hey, look — you were the one who said you wanted to have that conversation in a public place," said Jim to Blair as they drove home through the rainy night.

"Yeah, well, that's because I thought she would kill me," said Blair. "Or kill you. I didn't expect her to analyze me half to death."

"Doesn't feel so good to be on the receiving end, now does it?" teased Jim, and then when Blair didn't answer, he looked over, forehead creased in concern. "Oh, come on, Blair, don't take it so seriously. She's your mother — it's her job to embarrass you."

"Jim, what did she say when I left the table?" asked Blair quietly.

"Relax, Chief — what do you think she said? She loves you. Will I take care of you? Yes, I said, I promise I will. I didn't mention that I seem to be genetically designed to do so. Okay?"

"Okay," said Blair, relenting, shoving a nervous hand through his hair. "I just don't want her to think — I mean, who I am, what I've become — I don't want her to think that I'm doing it to hurt her, that's all."

"I don't think she thinks that at all. I'm actually — " and Jim stopped and laughed. "I actually think that she took it all very well!" he said, throwing his hands up incredulously.

"Uh, hands on the wheel, Jim, please! — dark, raining!" said Blair nervously, and Jim put his hands down.

"She was supportive of you, supportive of us — ok, so she's not thrilled with you being a cop but she seemed to understand why you're doing it and respect your right to make that decision for yourself. Truth be told, I feel bad for ever having doubted her."

"Yeah, she's pretty amazing, really," murmured Blair pensively.

"I shouldn't be so surprised, I guess," said Jim, shaking his head. "I mean, she is your mother — "

"Well, that's the thing, Jim — she's my mother, and she's always, always had to justify how she was raising me," explained Blair. "And I just hate the idea that I might be letting her down — "

"But Blair, you can't live like that. Protecting her from what other people think. Living up to what you think she wants you to be. Trust me on this," said Jim. "I've been nothing but a disappointment to my father. And at some point, you just have to say, well: fuck it." He pulled the truck up in front of the loft and turned off the engine.

"Yeah, but Jim, you disagree with your father's philosophy of life. I don't really disagree with Naomi. I mean, what does she want, anyway? For me to be politically and spiritually aware, and not to blow other people's heads off."

"Well, fifty percent ain't bad," said Jim, and then he stopped, turned to Blair sorrowfully. "Blair, I'm sorry."

"It's okay, I can spell 'defense mechanism'," muttered Blair.

"Well, I'm still sorry," said Jim softly, sincerely. "I know that you don't like to joke about it."

"Mmm, my infamous violence issues coming to the fore," said Blair. He slid over across the front seat so that his left leg rubbed against Jim's right. "Still, you know, you can make it up to me."

Jim looked at him, and then rubbed Blair's denim-clad thigh with his open palm. "I'll make it up to you," said Jim softly.

"So go ahead," whispered Blair, turning toward Jim, raising a hand to stroke Jim's chest through his leather jacket.

"What — here? In the truck?" blurted Jim.

"It's dark. It's raining. No one's around," murmured Blair.

"Uh...Blair," said Jim, and then Blair slid his hand around to the back of Jim's neck, and lifted his head up for a kiss, and Jim felt the soft lips brush over his and felt the heat of Blair's breath on his face — and then Blair glued himself to Jim's mouth, wrapping one arm around Jim's head and holding on tightly. His other hand slid into Jim's jacket, slid between the buttons of his shirt, popping one off — and Jim felt the hand rubbing circles on his chest, and it was warm, so very warm. He let his own hands slide up Blair's body, caressing it through the soft flannel jacket, to Blair's head, and then he buried them in Blair's hair, let the lushness of it warm him as he explored Blair's mouth with his tongue. And Jim felt Blair writhing responsively, radiating — absolutely radiating — heat.

"God, Blair," he murmured roughly when they finally broke apart, "God, you're so hot," and he was running eager, appreciative hands over Blair's body, "so very hot — so dammed sexy — I want you so much — "

"So take me," Blair urged breathlessly. "Touch me. Now. Here. C'mon — do it, do it now — c'mon, please, Jim — I want it — need it — " and then he pulled away and leaned back against the passenger side door, resting his legs lengthwise along the edge of the seat, and he scrabbled at his jeans, released his cock, and met Jim's eyes. He stared at Jim, slid his fist over his erection once, slowly — seductively — teasing —

And Jim leaned over him, pushed his hand away and replaced it with his own, felt rewarded by the soft sound of Blair's moan, by the flash of pleasure that crossed his lover's face, and he slid his other hand under Blair's ass and squeezed, and Blair let his head fall back against the door and closed his eyes, and Jim stroked him gently, turned on by the picture of Blair clothed and jacketed, clothed except for the beautiful, warm cock Jim held in his hand, clothed except for the look of dissolute pleasure contorting Blair's face, which made him seem naked, more naked than naked —

"You know what this does to me," Jim said, and it wasn't a question.

Blair smiled and murmured, "Guilty."

"You like this," said Jim, hovering over him, stretching to kiss his face gently, speeding his strokes, and that wasn't a question either.

Blair murmured acknowledgment and then added: "You like this, too. You like me like this — you need this."

"I need this," admitted Jim, knowing that it was true, knowing that he had needed exactly this sort of playful, responsive lover to energize him, to push him past his denials, his repressions — his common sense, even. Certainly he had needed a lover without sexual issues: Jim had enough for the both of them.

Blair sighed from beneath closed eyes, thrust his hips up rhythmically, seeking pleasure — pleasure from Jim, and Blair's unselfconscious display of sexual desire made Jim groan with lust. He started as Blair reached out and slid a hand down his other arm, caressing it with his palm. Jim stared at the hand gripping his forearm, and when he looked again at Blair's face he met eyes that were dilated, black with passion.

"Touch yourself," murmured Blair, urgently. "Come with me..." and Jim thought, tensely, "No, I can't, I'm in the truck, I just can't — " and he must have squeezed Blair's cock tightly in response to this sudden attack of nerves because Blair suddenly went, "Ohhhh," and twisted his head away, and Jim felt Blair's body leap with pleasure beneath him, and he felt his own erection throb sympathetically, and then he thought, "Oh, yes — yes, yes, yes," and he reached down and unzipped his pants and took his own erection in his other hand and stroked himself for long minutes to Blair's rhythm, always to Blair's rhythm, Blair's rhythm always.

And then Jim tensed, sighed, came; he knew that Blair, who could surf the waves of passion like no one else, was lost beside him, afloat on a sea of sensation, and then Jim hissed and gritted his teeth and stroked him hard, brought him over, brought Blair finally crashing down beside him.

"Oh yeah," he heard Blair murmur softly, and Jim slid his semen slicked fingers to Blair's full lips, half-outraged by his own daring, and offered them to him. Blair opened his eyes and leaned forward to lick the come off, as Jim knew he would, and Jim nearly zoned on the feel of Blair's tongue on his fingers — and was stopped only by the visual stimulation of watching Blair do it, and the brazen sexuality of the gesture drove him half-crazy, as he knew it would. Slowly, he moved his other hand to his own mouth and sucked Blair's come off his own fingers, watching Blair watching him do it, watching Blair smile, watching Blair's eyes burn for him.

"Kiss me," Blair hissed, and Jim bent over him and kissed him gently, deeply, their combined tastes sliding, exploding, over his tongue.

Finally, he pulled back from the kiss and said, softly, "Are you ready to go upstairs, now?"

"I guess so," replied Blair, moving his hands to Jim's head, over Jim's face. "I love you so," he murmured under his breath.

"Upstairs," said Jim. "Home," and Blair kissed him again once quickly before they rearranged themselves and ventured out into the cold rain, running for their doorway.

"Shower," Blair said immediately upon entering the loft. "Hot shower," he amended as he hung up his jacket.

"Sounds great," said Jim, and then the phone rang. "Be right with you," he said to Blair, and Blair kicked his shoes off and headed into the bathroom.

"Hello?" said Jim, picking up.

"Jim, it's Simon."

"What's wrong?" asked Jim immediately, instinctively checking his watch.

"Nothing's wrong, it's okay," assured Simon.

"You're still at the station?"

"No, I'm home," said Simon. "Very much at home. This is an off-duty call."

"Why?" asked Jim suspiciously, sitting on the arm of the sofa.

"Because I want to tell you something that I'm not supposed to tell you," said Simon.

"What?" asked Jim.

"Are you alone?" asked Simon.

"For the moment, yeah," said Jim, looking at the closed bathroom door, hearing the loud shhhhh of the water, feeling its heat even through the door, wondering how Blair could stand water that hot —

"I got a report today from Margaret Carentz. The counselor Blair saw about the rape shooting. I'm not supposed to — "

"Just spill it, Simon," said Jim, and Simon laughed wryly.

"It's almost funny, really," said Simon. "She says — well, she says that Sandburg's the worst kind of patient."

"The worst?" asked Jim, amused, eyebrows flying skyward.

"The worst," confirmed Simon, sharing the joke. "Impossible. In fact the phrase she used was — wait, you'll love this — " he said, and Jim could hear his captain flipping through pages. "Yeah, here it is: 'therapy proof.'"

"Therapy proof?" repeated Jim incredulously. "Blair?"

"That's what the woman says, Jim," confirmed Simon. "I'm staring at it, in black and white."

"What the hell does she mean by that?" asked Jim, taking umbrage on his lover's behalf.

"What she means, Jim, is that Blair's too expert at it. He's read the same books she has — he knows all the right answers and how to deliver them persuasively. They're working from the same playbook, Jim, and she can't crack him."

"Well, why does she want to crack him?" asked Jim.

"Because...well, this is the not so funny part. She says that he seems fine about having killed MacInnes, but she thinks that there may be something else going on. She thought Blair might be holding something back."

"Forgive me if that doesn't send me into a panic, sir," said Jim. "Sure, he's holding something back — the whole Sentinel business, for one thing. Maybe she was smelling that."

"That could be it," said Simon. "Anyway, her recommendation was to let him resume business as usual, but to keep an eye out for any unusual behavior."

"Oh yeah, right — like I could tell," replied Jim, sarcastically.

"Yeah, well, with Sandburg it's a challenge," admitted Simon. "I guess we look for anything that's...well, unusual for him."

"I can't even begin to imagine what that might be..." said Jim, ruefully.

"Well, if he cuts his hair or votes Republican, call an ambulance," retorted Simon.

"Will do," replied Jim, laughing. "I appreciate your calling, Simon."

"No problem. See you tomorrow," said Simon and disconnected.

Jim turned the phone off and set it down on the coffee table. "Therapy-proof," he muttered to himself, and then he shook his head, slid out of his shoes, and pulled his sweater off over his head.

He got up, turned toward the bathroom, and then the phone rang again. He sighed, sat down on the sofa, and picked it up again. "Yes?" he said.

"Jimmy?" said William Ellison.

Blair lost himself in the pulsing heat of the shower, enjoying the feel of the hot water on his face, streaming down his body, and he felt his muscles ease and relax — god, Jim would never understand how good this felt to him and, after all the time spent in communes and on digs and expeditions, what a luxury it still was.

But then after a while he could feel his fingertips shriveling, and Jim didn't seem to be coming, and so he turned the water off and reached for — one, two, three — towels, and he wrapped his hips, wrapped his shoulders, wrapped his hair and stepped out of the shower into the steam-filled bathroom.

He dried himself carefully, not wanting to be cold when he left the warm room, and slipped into a t-shirt and an old pair of sweats. Neatly, carefully, he hung up the towels he had used, just the way Jim — wonderful Jim! — would want them.

Eventually he wandered out of the bathroom, still toweling his hair — and felt panic grip him as he saw Jim hunched in apparent agony upon the sofa — and he dropped the towel and rushed to Jim's side, ready to guide, comfort, call an ambulance — and he grabbed his lover's arm, spun him around, touched his face — calling, desperately, "Jim!" — and Jim turned to him and there were tears in his eyes and Blair stopped short as he realized that Jim was...laughing.

"Jesus, James!" muttered Blair, smacking Jim's shoulder hard in irritation.

Jim gasped, pointed at the phone, lying on its side on the sofa where he had dropped it, and said, "My father — " and then he convulsed with laughter again, holding his stomach.

"What? asked Blair. "What the hell's so fucking funny?"

"He said — -he said — " sputtered Jim, and then he launched into an imitation. "'Jimmy,'" he began — and then broke up laughing, clutching his stomach tighter, sucking for air. "'Jimmy,'" he began again, mimicking his father's precise, clipped WASPy speech, "'some crazy woman's called and — '" and again he broke up, and he let himself fall over sideways on the sofa, absolutely shaking with laughter.

"Crazy woman?" repeated Blair, and then his eyes widened, and he said, "Oh no..."

"'Jimmy, some crazy woman's called — and she said — she said — '"

"Oh, no, no, no, no, no," pleaded Blair, half-laughing, half-shuddering with dread.

" — she said that you'd taken that boy to bed!'"

Blair's hands flew up to cover his face.

"'Taken that boy to bed!'" hooted Jim. "Trust my father to make it sound — god, colonial!" Jim blurted, almost giggling. "Like — like it's a plantation, and I'm bedding one of my slaves! Oh — oh — oh god, can't breathe!"

"Jim! Oh, Jim, I'm so sorry," said Blair. "Naomi had no right to — "

"What are you sorry for? It's fucking hilarious! It's so my old man — such the way he would see it! The Ellison divine right to buy, sell, and fuck whomever you want. God, would I have loved to have been a fly on that wall for that conversation! Naomi probably wants us all together for Christmas!" whooped Jim.

"We don't really do Christmas," murmured Blair.

"Hanukkah. Winter Solstice. Kwanza!" said Jim, wiping his eyes. "Whatever-the-fuck. She thinks we're all family now! Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! Can I have a glass of water, please?"

Blair skittered quickly into the kitchen, returned with a glass of water, extended it to Jim, who sat up and drank it down in long gulps.

"Sure you don't want something stronger?" Blair hazarded.

"Blair, the tone!" Jim continued, staring at him incredulously. "You missed the tone! The faux-sophisticated, 'we're-all-men-of- the-world-here' tone! The 'you-couldn't-possibly-have-bedded-that-boy' tone! And the best — " he sputtered, beginning to break up again, " — the best part of it, Blair — is that I'm not entirely sure if he's more upset that you're a man — or that you're Jewish!" And then Jim broke up laughing, and fell over on the sofa again.

"Oh my god," said Blair softly, laughing. "Oh my god..."

"No Jews in the country club," said Jim, waving a finger at him in mock-solemnity. "And what we're going to do with my Aunt Emily's pearl necklace — well, I just don't know."

"We could break it up," said Blair, trying to share in the joke. He sat down on the sofa, sat on Jim's sock-clad feet. "I could put the clasp through my navel," he suggested.

"An excellent idea," gasped Jim. "We could stud your ears with the pearls — five or six, all around each. Oh, funny — so funny." He lay back for a moment, tried to get his breathing under control. "That poor man," he sighed. "Poor man. And he thought he'd hit rock bottom when I turned down Yale in 1978. God, I'm a one-man disgrace factory."

"So how did it — wait, you turned down Yale?" sputtered Blair.

Jim waved away the question as an irrelevancy.

"But Jim — all right, forget it!" said Blair. "So what happened?"

"What happened? I hung up on him," said Jim, and at that moment the phone rang again. Jim lay there, comfortably stretched across the couch, watching Blair with amused eyes as Blair stared at the ringing phone — and then Blair snatched up the phone and answered it.

"Jimmy?" said a concerned voice.

"Um, no, this is Blair. Blair Sandburg," said Blair, staring at Jim.

"Oh. Right. Hello, Blair — this is, uh, Bill Ellison. Jim's father — "

Don't I know it, thought Blair. "Oh, yes, of course," he said, in his politest, most professorial voice. "How are you?"

"Fine, thanks," replied the senior Ellison, uncertainly. "Can I, uh, talk to Jimmy?"

"Um, hold on a sec," said Blair, and he looked at Jim and extended the phone. Jim looked at him, looked at the phone, and shook his head no.

"Um, Mr. Ellison — Jim is...indisposed at the moment," said Blair.

"Yeah, I bet he is," said Ellison Sr. and then Blair heard him exhale softly, sadly.

"Do you want to leave him a message?" asked Blair.

"A message?" mused Ellison Sr. "Message? Hell, I don't know. Look, um, Blair — I got this call — "

"That was probably my mother," interjected Blair, attempting to cut William Ellison off before he referred to Naomi as "some crazy woman."

"Oh," said Ellison Sr., softly. "Oh. Oh, I see."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Ellison," said Blair. "She — she shouldn't have called you — "

"No, it's all right," said Ellison Sr. "It's fine. Your mother, huh?"

"I would bet so," confirmed Blair.

"Oh," said Ellison Sr. "Well I guess then..." he said, trailing off, and Blair held the line patiently as William Ellison, financial wizard, put two and two together, and then cleared his throat. "So maybe, um...maybe you and Jim would, um, you know, like to come to lunch, sometime?"

"Lunch?" repeated Blair, and Jim sat up, glared at him, shook his head no no no violently. Blair stared at Jim, and then leapt up off the couch as Jim made a grab for the phone. "Um — yeah," he said, as Jim hurled himself to his feet. "I think we'd like to do that — " and he dodged left, and then shot right, as Jim chased him around the sofa. "Sounds good," he blurted, eyes locked on Jim. "When were you thinking?" and then he made a desperate run for the kitchen table, skidded, swung around the far side.

"Sunday?" asked William Ellison. "Noonish? Here at the house?"

"Sunday?" repeated Blair loudly to Jim, circling the kitchen table, keeping it between them. Jim Ellison made frantic and violent strangling motions with his hands. Blair made a face at him, threw his hands in the air helplessly. "Sunday's probably fine," he said. "I'll need to check with Jim," he added casually, ignoring the fact that Jim was furiously telegraphing to him exactly how he felt about Sunday with the grace and skill of Marcel Marceau — well, okay, maybe Marcel Marceau on crack.

"Okay, good," said Ellison Sr., and Blair noted that he sounded, well, relieved. "Tell Jimmy — tell him I look forward to seeing him. Tell him — well, just tell him that. Oh, and Blair — is there anything that you don't or won't eat?"

"Me? I'll eat anything," replied Blair, making a "look-how-considerate-he's-being-so-just-stop-being-such-an-asshole" face at Jim. Jim accurately mimed "I-am-this-close-to-the-end-of-my-rope, here, Blair!" and Blair, with a few simple gestures, returned, "Just-deal-with-it-already, okay?!" Jim turned his back and stomped off across the living room.

"Oh, good. That's good. Okay, well, I'll expect you. Call me if — if you can't make it," he said, and they both knew that meant: If You Can't Get Jim To Come.

"Okay, right. Nice talking to you, sir," said Blair, and he turned off the phone and put it on the kitchen table.

Jim glared at him from across the room, fingers clenching and unclenching. Blair stared at him, arms crossed, and held his ground. Jim came over, and his eyes were dangerous. Blair stared back, held his ground. Jim moved close, towering over him in his most intimidating manner. Blair craned his neck to stare up at him, clenched his jaw, and held his ground. Jim raised his hands to Blair's neck, let his fingers skate up Blair's throat, and Blair could feel that they were trembling; and he held his ground, held Jim's eyes, and then hissed, "I did what you wanted. I only did what you wanted. I always do what you want," — and Jim stared at him and then let his hands fall. He turned and dropped into one of the kitchen chairs, and then Blair was behind him, kneading his tense shoulder muscles with strong fingers, whispering, "It's okay. It's going to be okay. It's all okay."  

The End