Too Much, Not Enough - Beau Geste 5
Notes/Warning: It never ceases to amaze me how you can go into writing a story with a direction in mind then it goes somewhere else entirely and I'll be danged if I can tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing. **scratches head confusedly** I'm trying to quit smoking - my gift to me for my birthday - and I'm at like 72 hours now of no cigarettes. I'm not convinced I'm even literate at this point, so please forgive me if this makes less sense than it should. Nothing like spreading the pain.
"What makes you think your dad is involved, anyway?" Blair asked absently, driving them out of downtown and towards the neighborhood where Jim had been raised.
"I'm a detective. It had to be somebody with money and a lot of influence in Cascade. Somebody who would push hard to clear your reputation but not endanger me while they did it... somebody who would assume they had your - our best interests at heart and would think that entitled them to act. Who else could it be?"
Blair frowned. "Jim, why would your dad give a damn about me?"
"Sandburg, Dad likes you. I thought you knew that."
"Not a psychic here. How was I supposed to know that?"
Holding up one hand, Jim ticked off his points finger by finger.
"Let's see. He's had us - as in you, too, not just me - over for dinner three times in the last six months, he laughs at your lame-ass jokes, he asks you questions about your research, he sent you a Christmas card, and he ate your ostrich chili without complaining. For Dad, that's as good as it gets."
"I thought he was just being polite," Blair muttered sulkily, not amused when Jim rolled his eyes.
"How - how will you feel about what he did, if he did it?" Blair asked Jim, wondering if Jim realized he sorely needed somebody to tell him how he should be feeling. He honestly wasn't sure. The events of the last week seemed to be crashing in on him now, leaving him numb, except for a vague sense of relief that Jim apparently didn't plan to abandon him. Not even Jim's implication that their friendship might be moving to a new level was making much of an impact... and he'd wanted that forever.
It didn't make much sense, but right now, nothing did.
"Part of me is a little pissed off that he decided to 'fix' this, and I kind of resent the fact that he did it, when it should have been me-"
"But mainly, I'm grateful. And if he was behind it, that's what I'm going to tell him."
"Grateful," Blair echoed, turning that concept over in his mind. Yeah, he could do grateful - he could act it, anyway, at least until he really felt it; until he knew what it all meant and how it was going to affect the rest of his life. "Okay."
"They're here," Steven said with no small degree of apprehension in his voice. William joined his son at the window and watched Blair Sandburg slide out of the driver side of that old truck, quickly moving to the other side to help Jimmy out, cane and all.
Something in that attentive, habitual care struck a chord in William, and he shook his head and wondered how he'd missed it before - wondered if Jimmy had missed it before Blair's press conference, and if he got it now.
Steven saw it, too, watching the way Blair automatically slowed his pace to suit Jim's limp.
"Blair really loves him, doesn't he."
"He'd just about have to, wouldn't he?" William replied, knowing full well that Jimmy would have heard Steven and surprised to find himself grinning at the thought.
"Because of what Blair did, you mean?"
"Well, that, and because Jimmy's such a catch. He's an Ellison, after all," William teased, laughing when Steven - and outside, Jimmy - gaped at him.
"Dad, sometimes I wonder if I know you at all," Steven said, chuckling.
"High time we got to know each other a little better." This time, William very definitely directed his words towards his oldest son, relieved when a soft smile crossed Jimmy's face.
"You don't seem too upset by the idea," Steven commented to William's shrug.
"There was a time when it would have bothered me," William admitted honestly. "Then I went through a year and a half of believing your brother was dead, only to discover that even after he was back, he wouldn't speak to me."
Jimmy came to a halt, and William saw Blair say something to him. His hand went to Blair's face, tucking a loose strand of hair behind one ear as he replied. Still speaking to Jimmy as much as Steven, William went on. "I have you boys back in my life, and all I want now is for you to be happy. I'd move heaven and earth to make you that way... so changing my attitude about a few things seems a small price to pay."
William put his arm around Steven's shoulders and gave him a squeeze, his heart a little sore at his son's surprise.
One more thing he was determined to change.
"Jim? You okay?"
Jim looked into that upturned face and brushed away a stray curl, his fingers lingering.
"I just heard Dad give us his blessing, Chief."
"His blessing." Blair blinked, aware that he ought to be pleased about that. That was good for Jim, wasn't it? Having his dad's blessing? And he wanted Jim to be happy, that was the main thing.
So he tried on a grin and patted Jim's back. "That's great, man."
"Are you okay?" Jim asked worriedly, beginning to realize Blair wasn't precisely acting like himself. "You've been awfully quiet since we left the station."
"Oh, yeah, I'm fine," Blair said, waving a careless hand. "Just- you know, processing."
No blip in that heart rate, no change in respirations, nothing in Blair's scent to indicate he was lying... but Jim was suddenly convinced that Blair wasn't fine at all. He just didn't know what to do about it.
"Ready to go in?"
"Sure. Might as well."
"Come on in, Jimmy," William murmured before his oldest son could knock, moving towards the foyer. Steven shot him a sharp look as he followed.
"His hearing is that good?"
"Better than you can imagine."
The door opened and Jim walked in, an accusatory look aimed at William.
"You told him?"
"Why didn't you tell me?" Steven was asking at virtually the same time, drawing Jim's attention off William and onto his brother.
"I didn't want- it was supposed to be-" Jim stopped himself and thought about what he was saying, and to whom. "You're right. I should have told you."
Only half an ear on his sons, William inspected Blair Sandburg. He hadn't seen Blair in person for several weeks, and the change in the younger man was quite dramatic. Blair looked pale and withdrawn, and didn't even seem to be listening as Steven started telling Jimmy of some incident he recalled from their childhood - a story William believed Blair would have enjoyed, ordinarily.
William caught himself frowning.
"Blair? Let's go sit down, hmm?"
Blair silently walked into the room William pointed him towards. Jim started to follow, and William held up one hand.
"Give me a few minutes to talk to Blair first, Jimmy, please. There are some things we need to discuss. Why don't you and Steven go check with Sally and see when dinner will be ready?"
"Dad, there are things we all need to-"
"Trust me, Jimmy, just this once," William whispered for Jim's hearing alone.
"Don't make me regret it."
It was a warning William didn't intend to ignore.
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