The Feeling's Mutual
Author Notes: This is for Rhianne and Spikedluv who both requested a sequel to Breaking the Habit. Thanks to Moonglow11066 for the beta.
Jim wasn't waiting up for him when he got back. He and Megan had gone for a celebratory beer and then she'd dropped him back at 852. He hadn't been able to stop the smile from appearing on his face as he watched the number two light up in the elevator and it was still there when he walked through the door of 307.
Humming 'Addicted to Love' he got ready for bed and was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
Upstairs, Jim listened as his soon-to-be-ex roommate's breathing slowed and his heartbeat settled into the steady relaxed rhythm he had become used to hearing over the last three years.
He knew he only had himself to blame for forcing Blair into the decision to move out. It wouldn't have killed him to admit to Blair that he didn't want him to move out; that Connor could find her own roommate, she didn't have to steal his.
But the words wouldn't come, so he'd retreated into his asshole persona and made it easy for Blair to make the decision Jim had been dreading ever since he'd gone past his promise to only stay a week.
Now he had only four more weeks to wallow in his friends' companionship; four weeks to try and find the words that would make Blair want to stay.
Jim was already gone when Blair got up the next morning and as he didn't have a class until ten o'clock he treated himself to a leisurely shower and an even more leisurely breakfast.
He then started to make a list of items he and Megan would need for their new apartment downstairs. He didn't know what Megan had already so he would go over the list with her later when he got to the PD.
Once his list was done he went into his room and started going through his things. Some things were still in boxes from his last forcible removal from number 307 but they needed repacking.
Oh man, his hands were shaking again. Could he really do this? He forced his hands to stop shaking. Yes, he could. It was about time he stopped tippy-toeing round Jim Ellison and his bad moods, swift temper and rules. He grinned; maybe he'd have his own rule with Megan - No rules.
Megan knocked on Simon's door and handed him her change of address details one month from today. She was almost at the door when he called her back.
"Does Ellison know about this?"
"Not yet, Captain."
"Well, I suppose Sandburg will be happy to have you for a neighbour."
"Actually, Sandy will be giving you his own change of address details when he gets in."
"Sandy's moving out of Jimbo's and in with me."
"And Jim doesn't know yet?"
"Well, he was more of an arsehole this morning than he usually is so I suspect Sandy did tell him that I'd asked."
"But he doesn't know that you're moving in downstairs yet."
"No. I'm trying to wean Sandy away in stages. I couldn't let him go cold turkey."
"You won't mind if I ignore that comment, will you?" Simon knew exactly what she meant but he wasn't going to go there.
"Not at all, Captain."
"Hmph. What day are you moving?"
"Last day of the month, it's a Saturday."
"Need some help?"
"I never turn down muscle." She grinned cheekily.
"Get out, you've been round Sandburg too long."
Blair found it increasingly hard to tell Jim where he was moving to. He'd been able to tell him they'd found an apartment but in the face of Jim's indifference he couldn't bring himself to tell him that he was only moving downstairs.
Maybe he should let Megan tell him, or Simon? Yeah, that was a better idea. Jim could hardly shout at Simon, especially if Simon told him in his office.
One week to go and Blair's possessions were gradually disappearing from the living room of the loft and into his bedroom where they were being packed away. Blair had spent the last two weekends with Megan at garage sales and house clearances, picking up cheap but good quality furniture.
Megan, it turned out, needed everything; her current place had been rented fully furnished so she didn't even have any cooking implements.
The night before he was due to leave Blair cooked a special dinner. Jim had made the effort to be home on time and they were now sitting in the living room in front of the fire having a last beer together.
"Well, good luck, Chief."
"Thanks, Jim. And thanks for the 'one week'."
Jim still hadn't been able to find the words and as Blair closed the door of his room behind him for the last time he wondered if he ever would.
He'd also made arrangements to not be there tomorrow to witness Blair's exit from his life. Oh, he knew Blair wouldn't be gone completely, he'd still see him at the PD, but there would be no more evenings of just the two of them relaxing in front of the television, no more meals prepared together, no more breakfasts eaten in a rush, no more algae shakes, no more long hairs clogging the sink, no more green mould growing in forgotten mugs…
Blair and Megan collapsed on their sofa, leaning their heads against the back. Everything was unpacked, their helpers Simon, Joel and Rafe had gone and it was just the two of them.
"Want a coffee?" He turned his head to her.
"Love one, but we forgot to go shopping, Sandy. No sugar. I can't drink coffee without sugar."
"Hey, did you tell Jimbo where you were moving to?"
"I'll tell him tomorrow. In Simon's office."
"With Simon present?"
"I really need a coffee." She stood up, grabbed her keys and an empty cup and was out the door before he could stop her.
Jim had spent several minutes wandering the loft after he got back. Blair's old room was spotless even to a sentinel's eyes. There was only one set of Tupperware in the fridge and the algae shake jar was gone from the counter top. He found that if he concentrated, he could still smell his guide, and if he hadn't known better he could have sworn he could still hear his heartbeat.
Just then there was a knock at the door. Extending his hearing he noted there was only one person outside his door. His nostrils flared as he recognised the distinctive perfume used by the one and only Connor. Scowling, he stalked to the door and threw it open.
She wasn't wearing a coat, despite the rain outside, and she only had her keys and, strangely, an empty cup.
"We're out of sugar, can you spare a cup like a good neighbour?"
Jim was still fuming when he arrived at his desk the next morning. He and Connor had argued, two fiery personalities clashing over one short hairy anthropologist, who had silenced the two of them by entering the loft using his old key. He'd dragged Connor out of the loft, promising to talk to Jim today. He'd heard Connor complaining that she hadn't got her sugar and Blair telling her he'd get some in the morning.
Jim couldn't suppress the growl that emerged when he saw Connor arrive at her desk. If looks could kill, rigor mortis would be setting in and H, who had been about to approach Jim, decided he needed a coffee more than he needed that file Jim was holding.
"Ellison! My office!" Simon opened his door and Jim entered, only to stop short when he saw Blair sitting there.
"I'll leave you to it. Don't touch my coffee, Sandburg." Simon closed the blinds and left the office.
"You mad at me, Jim?"
Jim could never resist those eyes and he slumped down into a chair.
"You could have told me you were only moving downstairs, Chief." Jim could hear the near whine in his voice and only hoped that Blair couldn't.
"I know, and I'm sorry. Look, why don't you come round tonight for dinner and see the place?"
"Sure, I'd like that." Jim stood up. "Uh, you're not gonna have anything weird like kangaroo are you?"
"For that you'll have to work out what it is yourself." Blair grinned, happy that they were friends again.
A week after Blair moved out Megan came up to Jim in the bullpen and placed a bag of buttermilk doughnuts down on his desk.
"Don't tell Sandy I gave them to you."
"What's this for?"
"It's a thank you gift."
"What are you thanking me for?"
"Blair is a dream roommate. He cooks, he cleans - he told me you showed him how to clean grout…"
"Wait a minute, he cleans? Voluntarily?"
"Won't let me do it, so, thanks Jimbo." She patted his shoulder and wandered back to her desk, leaving Jim speechless.
Two weeks after Blair moved out he got a call on his mobile phone. He checked the clock and wondered who would be calling him at ten o'clock at night. He flipped it open and saw that it was Jim.
"Do you know what time it is, Sandburg?"
"Yes Jim, do you?"
"It's ten o'clock."
"And? Jim, I don't live with you anymore, I can flush if I want to."
"I'm not calling about that, Chief." Blair could hear the irritation in Jim's voice. "I'm calling to complain about the music. Turn it down."
"You can tell it's coming from here? Cool."
"Turn. It. Down."
"I'll ask Megan, it's her music."
"See that you do." Jim ended the call and Blair tapped on Megan's shoulder.
She lifted off the headphones and raised her eyebrow in query.
"Had a complaint about your music from a certain sentinel." He said.
"Don't worry, I'll talk to him tomorrow."
"Jim, can I have a word?" Blair dropped his backpack by Jim's desk and motioned for Jim to follow him into the empty break room.
Ten minutes later Blair collected his backpack and was out the door, leaving Jim in the break room, his ears burning. Blair's words were still ringing in his ears, words like 'privacy', 'boundaries', 'Peeping Tom'.
Jim wondered if Megan's attitude was rubbing off on Blair; once upon a time he would have marvelled at the way Jim could hear the music through the headphones - and hadn't that been embarrassing when Blair had told him.
Megan was counting the hours down by the third week. Blair was putting on a good front but she could tell he was missing living with Jim. She was getting a little tired of 'Jim did it this way' and 'Jim liked my stir-fry'. She only wished Jim would get off his butt and ask Blair to live with him again.
"Hey Ellison." She hitched herself up onto the corner of his desk.
"What do you want, Connor?"
"Could you invite Sandy over to yours tonight?"
"I haven't told my new guy about living with Sandy. I want to break it to him gently."
"You're ashamed of Sandburg?" The thunderclouds were gathering.
"No! I just thought perhaps Sandy could use a bit of male bonding, you know?"
"Fine, I'll ask him."
"Hi Jim, I brought the beer." Blair held up the six-pack as Jim opened the door.
Jim watched Blair wander round the loft, not missing the wistful look at his old room.
"Looks a bit bare without my stuff, doesn't it Jim? I guess you're happy to have your space back, huh?"
It hit Jim suddenly that maybe Blair missed him as much as he missed Blair.
"Come back, Chief."
"Megan will kill me."
"Megan's got a theory." Blair busied himself opening two beers. "She said our relationship was unhealthy, and I needed to be away from you."
"What the hell does she know about us?"
"She was right."
"Everything was on your terms here, Jim. With Megan it's an equal partnership."
"Does that mean you won't come back?"
"Give me one good reason why I should."
"Megan said you clean."
"Ha ha. Give me another."
"I've redecorated your old bedroom."
"I have a much bigger bedroom, give me another."
"I miss you."
Jim finally found the words.
"I love you."
Blair's smile was incandescent.
"The feeling's mutual."
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