Status Quo

by Kass

My office computer died a terrible death. I had to work out my aggressions somehow, so I wrote a story. Many thanks to Sihaya for the read-through, and to Destina for the beta-read!
A pox on computers, Blair Sandburg thought, slamming a punch into the heavy bag. The connection of knuckles with vinyl was satisfying; the bag swung slightly away, then creaked back. This time he nailed it with an elbow strike, moving from the hips, from his center, his hara.

Mentally he chuckled. Who knew he'd find common ground between Naomi's meditation teachings and the fighting skills he had learned at the Academy?

He took a half-step back, turned, then threw a combination: side-blade kick, jab, reverse-punch. One-two-three. Sweat stuck his shirt to his body; the edge of his foot left a momentary damp imprint on the punching bag.

Fuck the computer, fuck the computer, fuck the computer, his mind chanted. Punch. Punch. Kick. Punch. The rhythm felt good.

"Somebody piss you off, Chief?"

Blair straightened, clapped both hands on the bag to stop its swing, and turned to face his partner, who leaned against the door. Hip slightly cocked, one hand balanced there, making his long legs look even more statuesque.

"Very clever, young grasshopper." Blair folded his hands at his chest, as in yoga or prayer, and bowed with a flourish. "You make good observer."

Jim gave an almost-laugh. "Sandburg, you've been watching too many martial arts films."

"Bite me," Blair said, bending to pick up his gym bag.

"Ah, well, now you sound like you again." Jim moved out of his way. "So who made you mad?"

"Not who. What." Blair stopped at the water fountain for a quick drink, relishing the cold. "Goddamned computer."


"Evidently the B-tree's screwed. Which means my files are basically lost. And no," he added, forestalling Jim's question, "they weren't backed-up."

The two men half-jogged down the stairs; Jim held the door for Blair, keeping his distance. Didn't want sweat on his nice clean shirt, Blair figured.

"What fi - oh, shit, you had the Whitefoot report, didn't you."

Blair nodded. "And the witness reports from the Lisa case. And all of your goddamned field notes, which I actually typed up and turned into reasonable English."

"Fuck," Jim said. They'd reached the truck; Jim unlocked his door and climbed in. Blair stood, waiting. After a second, Jim reached over and unlocked the passenger door.

"Hang on," he said, before Blair could get in. "Why aren't you getting in your car?"

"Take a closer look. Right rear tire." Blair swung his gym bag behind the seat and started to climb in.

"Don't you have a spare?"

"It's dark," Blair pointed out. "I've been beating the shit out of the heavy bag for the last forty minutes. I'd kind of rather go home and shower and eat some food. You mind?" He slid into the seat, slammed the door, and pulled his seatbelt fast. "Let's go, man."

Jim was breathing shallowly as they pulled onto the street.

"Oh, c'mon. I'm not that ripe."

"That's what you think."

"Yeah, well, suck it up." It wasn't big of him, he knew, but some part of him enjoyed knowing that the truck was saturated with his smell. For a few minutes Jim would be as aware of his body as he was of Jim's. It was a perverse kind of pleasure, but these days Blair took what he could get.

Quiet loft sounds: the splash of soapy water rinsing their chili bowls, the repeated in and out of Sandburg's breathing, the low hum of the refrigerator, the sharper hum of the TV.

"Didn't you ask Simon for a new machine?" Jim, flipping channels, paused at ESPN. Little skinny people in oversized shoulder pads. "What the hell is this?"

"It's high school football. They're doing a thing on some Philadelphia team. Remember? It was on last week." Sandburg returned to the living room, drying his hands on his shirt.

"Trying to get us psyched for the NFL." Jim did remember, now; they'd sat through part of last Wednesday's special. Sandburg had watched with some interest; Jim had mostly watched him. Surreptitiously. What else was new.

"Yeah. And yes, I did tell Simon I needed a new machine. At least five times. Starting about a month ago."

Jim hit the mute button. "And *that* was your mistake. You should've asked, not told."

"I thought it was 'don't ask, don't tell.'"

Jim rolled his eyes. Sandburg, he thought, you have no fucking idea.

"And anyway, it wouldn't have mattered. The PD's no different than anywhere else I've ever worked-"

Jim snorted.

"-in that respect." He dragged the last three words out; Jim could hear the smile in his vowels. "No one wants to mess with the status quo. If it ain't broke, they don't want to fix it; and now it's dead."

Despite the words, Sandburg's tone was surprisingly cheerful, and Jim told him so.

"Ehh," he said. "Who gives a fuck. Either we can revive it tomorrow, or we can't. One way or another, I'm not worrying about it now."

Jim couldn't argue with that; he turned the sound back on the TV, and they watched the rest of the special. He had to admit, the play was pretty good, for high school kids. The QB lofted a few passes, but he took sacks well, and he could scramble.

After the football show, they watched the news for a while. They talked about the upcoming weekend. Going to see a movie, maybe. Going for a hike.

Despite these distractions, Sandburg's earlier words were still running circles in his ears when he went to bed.

Blair couldn't sleep. Even with his eyes pressed shut, he could feel the blue light from his bedside digital clock. He turned it away, then turned it back. Threw the covers off. Pulled them back up.

He couldn't clear his mind enough to calm into sleep.

It wasn't the computer keeping him awake. He'd told Jim the truth; he wasn't worrying about it. He'd worked out his aggressions at the gym.

It wasn't his dysfunctional car. What the fuck, a flat tire's a flat tire, they'd fix it tomorrow.

What was keeping him up was his love life. Or lack thereof.

Not that there weren't interested women; for that matter, there were interested men, although he tried to avoid dating men these days. They were *like* who he wanted, but not like enough. And he could never imagine bringing them home. Actually, it had been a while since he d brought anyone home at all.

He half-suspected it was his reluctance to let anyone get close enough to meet Jim that had scotched his last half-dozen relationships, but that wasn't what was bothering him now.

What bothered him was Jim. Specifically, that Jim didn't’—and probably couldn't’—see him as a potential love interest. Or, hell, even a potential fuck-buddy; after four years of unrequited, Blair thought, fuck-buddy would be better than nothing.

It wasn't like he'd expected anything different; he'd been living with an uninterested Jim from the start. Jim was a hell of a partner, a hell of a best friend. But romance?

Blair sighed, turned on the lamp, and picked up the book of short stories on his bedside table.

There was perfect blankness inside Jim's sleep mask, but it wasn't enough. He rolled onto one side. Curled on the other. Bent his knees, then straightened them. Felt a cramp coming on in his left shoulderblade, and took a few deep breaths to loosen the muscles.

Eventually he took the mask off, sat at the edge of his bed, and rubbed his face.

"No one wants to mess with the status quo." Totally untrue; *he* wanted to mess with the status quo.

With a specific status quo.

The one that involved he and Sandburg plodding along at a distance, despite the fact that Jim wanted pretty badly to jump Sandburg's bones, and the fact that Jim had now and again smelled traces of another man on his partner's skin, which meant...well, meant the idea of men wasn't completely alien, at least.

He knew what he wanted; he even knew he'd probably get away with it. If the diss disaster hadn't made Sandburg want to cut and run, having Jim make a pass at him wasn't likely to, either.

On his better days, he suspected Sandburg might want it, too.

So why hadn't Jim done anything? He stood, stretched, felt and heard the vertebrae in his spine click into alignment.

Because he hadn't wanted to be rejected. Because there was always the chance Sandburg would say no, and that would make things awkward.

Because things had been working okay the way they were. But "okay" wasn't really enough, was it? Maybe Sandburg deserved better than okay. Hell, maybe they *both* deserved better than okay.

Years of practice meant Jim could move down the stairs almost noiselessly; he stood silent outside Sandburg's door. To knock, or not to knock.

His partner was obviously awake; light came from inside, and now and then the sound of a flipped page.

What the fuck. Carpe noctem. Jim knocked.


He eased the door open and moved inside. Sandburg was in bed, covers drawn up past his knees, glasses on, a book face-down on the bed. An old Spider Robinson, Jim noted idly, reading the print upside-down.

"You got a sec?" Stupid question, but Sandburg nodded.

"Sure." He patted the edge of the bed and Jim sat, a little awkwardly. Despite the blankets between them, he could feel Sandburg's heat.

"I. Ah. I've been thinking about something you said earlier." So far, so good.


"About nobody wanting to fuck with the status quo."

Sandburg's heartbeat picked up speed and his eyes flickered slightly. Did he know where Jim was going with this? And - the real question - was he nervous because he wanted Jim to go there, or because he didn't?

"It's risky, you know?"

Sandburg tilted his head slightly. "You're not talking about adding new computers to the Major Crimes budget, are you."

It wasn't really a question, but Jim shook his head anyway.

Sandburg took a breath, then let it out. "There's nothing wrong with being risk-averse."

"And I'm about as risk-averse as they come," Jim said, dryly.

A smile quirked Sandburg's lips. "Hey, you said it, not me."

"Sometimes being risk-averse means you lose out on things, though." Jim heard Sandburg's pulse increase again. His own fingers tingled; he felt hyper-alive. Hovering on the edge of what was either going to be the biggest mistake he'd ever made, or the best leap of faith of his life.

"So?" Sandburg gave a little shrug. "Take a risk."

Jim felt himself leaning - noted how the mattress gave under his hands - listened to the duet of their two heartbeats - and resisted the urge to whoop with joy as Sandburg shifted beneath him and opened his mouth against Jim's.

One minute, dissatisfied and frustrated, reading the same page of terrible puns over and over; the next minute, swapping spit with Jim Ellison.

This, thought the small part of Blair's brain that could be spared for thinking, was a wet dream come true.

This was really happening; really Jim in his bed, leaning over his body, breaking away from his mouth to suckle just beneath his jaw.

"Holy shit."

Jim chuckled. "This risky enough for you?"

"Fuck yes." The paperback fell to the floor, ignored.

"Is that an invitation?"

"Oh, fuck, yes." Fervent.

And then, some time later, "Ohhh. Fuck. *Yes.*"

Jim's alarm went off first, and Jim jerked awake. The sound was strange. Far-away.

Of course; it was upstairs. And he wasn't. He was on Sandburg's futon. But Sandburg wasn't there. Where the hell was Sandburg?

He stretched hearing slightly and relaxed when he heard bare feet padding up the stairs, the alarm being shut off, his partner coming back down again.

The air was steamy. And he could smell soap. Right: Sandburg had to be fresh out of the shower.

As, in fact, he was. He walked back into his room, towel snugged around his hips, and smiled when he saw Jim awake.

"Morning." His voice was deep, like it always was when he first woke up. It reminded Jim of the way he'd sounded, groaning; it made his spine prickle.

"Just 'morning,' or does this one get a 'good' on it?"

Sandburg looked at Jim, sitting up in bed with the sheet rucked up around his thighs, and grinned. "Looks good to me."

Jim felt himself blush. He was altogether too happy for six in the morning, but couldn t seem to make the feeling fade. He opened his mouth to reply, and was interrupted by Sandburg's clock-radio.

Which they both reached for. Sandburg hit the off button; Jim took a deep, Sandburg-scented breath; and, almost without thinking, Jim pulled his partner back into bed.

The towel was loosed. Bodies pressed together.

"Ah...hey..." Sandburg managed, a little while later. "Not to be a spoilsport. But we're gonna be late."

"Your computer doesn't work anyway," Jim pointed out - reasonably, he thought. He returned to his explorations.

"Good point."

Ahh, that's the sound I was after, nice and breathy, Jim thought. He licked the nipple again, then gently bit.

"Oh yeah. Mmm. Like that."

Fuck the status quo, Jim thought idly, running a hand over his partner's ass.

He grinned. Much better this way. Fuck: the status quo.

The End