Notes: This is the blackmail payment to Sunglow66, because she demanded it. Glad I got it in before the deadline!
“Going somewhere, Chief?” Jim leant casually against the door frame and watched Blair carefully fold clothes into a holdall.
“Yeah, I’m going to a graduation.” Blair looked up at his roommate.
“Oh?” Jim’s gut twisted in remembrance of Sandburg failing to attend his own, and couldn’t figure out how he could be so happy about someone else’s.
“Anyone I know?”
“You remember Alec?”
Jim paused and remembered the skinny geek on rollerblades from a few years back.
“Skinny boy wonder on skates? Hated spiders.”
“Yeah,” Blair shuddered, “not too keen on them myself, actually.”
“You kept in touch with him?” a disbelieving snort from Jim had Blair straightening up.
“Of course I did.”
“Because he asked me to? Maybe being tied up together forced some weird bond between us and we became friends? Jeez, Jim, not everything in my life revolves around you.” Blair snapped his mouth shut as the bitter words spilled out and the silence stretched between them before the smaller man turned back to his packing.
Jim backed out of his room and retreated to the kitchen where he saw evidence of Sandburg having cleaned out the fridge in preparation for him being away for a few days. At least, he hoped it was only for a few days. Sandburg wouldn’t just up and leave now, not after they’d survived everything, would he? Jim leaned against the counter and folded his arms, wondering if he should go back and confront Blair, or leave him to calm down a bit first.
Blair stuffed the last pair of socks into his holdall and zipped up the suit bag with a vicious jerk, biting the inside of his cheek to prevent him from cursing Jim. He should have known better than to expect anything other than indifference from Jim. After the dissertation mess, and the offer of the badge, Blair had started at the Academy. It hadn’t taken him or the instructors long to come to the conclusion that this wasn’t the right course for Blair.
Too many years in school had had him questioning them at every turn, and eventually the director in charge had pulled him aside for a long chat. By the end of that day, Blair had been offered the chance to utilise his skills in other areas of law enforcement. His minor in psychology and MA in anthropology was enough to have an offer of teaching part time at the Academy while he studied as a profiler put on the table. It hadn’t taken a great deal of thought to accept, and for once Blair hadn’t thought about how Jim would feel about it.
So, eight months down the line and Jim was still waiting for him to bail on him. That much he’d got from the thirty second conversation just now. Jim had just blithely assumed that he’d cut all ties with his previous life and concentrated on his new one. Well, there were a few people who still spoke to him, and he was old news anyway. Faculty changes and politics was a way of life in academia, and most of the time people had short memories; or maybe selective ones.
Blair snorted softly at that thought. Jim was a past master of only remembering what he wanted to remember, and it suited him to think that Blair’s world revolved around him, as it always had done in the past. Anything that didn’t directly involve him was ignored and Blair was getting a little tired of it. Maybe this time away would give them both time to decide where they were heading, and perhaps on his return it might be time to start looking for somewhere else to live.
“I’ll be away for a week, Jim.” Blair picked his keys up and slung the strap over his shoulder.
“You got a number for me?”
“Contact details are on the pad in my room.”
“Only to the airport.”
“What, you didn’t think I’d take you?” Jim straightened up.
“I didn’t think you’d be back this early.”
“So you were just going to cut and run?” the damning words were out of Jim’s mouth before he could stop them.
“Fuck you, Jim.” Blair yanked open the door and was gone before Jim could cross the room.
“Shit!” Jim slapped his hand against the pillar and winced as it stung his palm.
He’d been treating Sandburg like shit for the last few months ever since he’d decided not to become a cop, and now he’d just driven him away again. Jim made his way over to the sofa and slumped down into the cushions, resting his aching head against the back. They hadn’t even talked it over, which was not Sandburg’s SOP. He’d just come home and calmly announced that he and the Academy had come to an agreement over his career. There had been no apology, nothing, and when Jim had asked about their partnership, Blair had just made some noises about Jim being in control now and not needing him to be there so much.
To be honest, he didn’t know why Sandburg stayed; he had a regular pay check now, so there was really no need for him to be still here. Jim sighed again and scrubbed tiredly at his eyes. He missed the old Blair, and knew he only had himself to blame. Maybe he should have insisted they sit down and talk, really talk, instead of shutting down and doing his best to act as though everything was normal.
This thing with Alec had thrown him and he’d reacted without thinking; Blair with a life outside of the PD equalled Jim Ellison losing his best friend. He snorted to himself as he admitted that he was quite possibly already losing him if he didn’t do something about it. And pretty damned quick, too.
Going into Blair’s room, he found the yellow pad that had a list of telephone numbers and the address of Alec in…Canada? What the hell was he doing in Canada? Making a decision, Jim picked up the phone and made three calls. He’d follow Blair and have it out with him once and for all.
“Blair! I hardly recognised you!” a familiar voice, recognised from phone calls, attracted his attention in the Arrivals area. A tall, broad shouldered young man strode over to him and enveloped him in a hug, ruffling lightly at his short hair.
“Alec!” Blair squirmed out from the noogie and looked up into laughing blue eyes.
“You haven’t.” Alec grabbed his bag and led the way over to the exit.
“Ha ha. How’ve you been, man?”
“Good, good. I’m glad you could make it.”
“Thanks for asking me, it means a lot.”
“Well, it was thanks to you that I got this far. I’m sure if I’d carried on the way I was, someone would have throttled me by now.” Alec rolled his eyes comically at his friend and they laughed.
He and Alec had kept up an email dialogue, with regular updates on Alec’s academic career, and with Blair’s mentoring, he’d achieved as near normal adolescence as his genius had allowed. They’d even managed a few web conferences over the years, and the young Canadian had immediately offered him a refuge up in Canada when he’d found out about Blair’s dissertation.
Now he was all grown up and ready to graduate, with honors, and he’d invited Blair as his guest.
“Still living with Jim?” Alec asked casually.
“Yeah, but maybe not for much longer.” Blair sighed wearily.
“Why, what’s he done?”
“You assume it’s something he’s done?”
“Hey, he’s not my friend,” Alec had never really understood Blair’s relationship with Ellison, “and don’t forget I’m a genius; I can read between the lines.”
“Just make sure they’re the right lines, though, okay?”
The next day, Alec took Blair on a tour of the university, and eventually they ended up in the Anthropology department. Blair looked around the near familiar surroundings with a slight pang. Alec stood in the doorway and watched him move around the room, lightly touching a few of the artefacts on the shelves. It reminded him of the first time he’d met Blair, although at the time he’d been swapping spit with a curvy brunette.
“So, any suitable candidates with compatible enzymes, Blair?”
“Oh, no.” Blair quirked a smile in his direction, “Still hear from Molly occasionally, though.”
“Yeah?” Alex had always liked her.
“Yeah. What about you?”
“I’m too young to settle down just yet.” Alec ventured further into the room, wondering how to bring up something that had been bothering him since Blair’s arrival. “Blair, are you sure you’re okay?”
“What do you mean?”
“Miserable, Chief.” A soft voice said from the doorway. Blair looked up, startled, to see Jim standing there.
“Sorry, Blair, but Jim called me before you arrived.” Alec shrugged apologetically and walked over to Ellison. Staring him in the eye, he thanked the growth spurt two years ago. “I’ll meet you both in the canteen in half an hour, okay?”
“Thanks, Alec.” Jim grasped his arm and allowed the young man to shut the door.
“What are you doing here, Jim?”
“Something I should have done a long time ago, Blair. Pull up a seat; we have a lot to talk about.”
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