Spoilers: None, though it takes place near end of season 2.
Summary: Naomi arrives with an exciting opportunity for Blair.
Notes: Fluff with a side of mild angst.
Feedback: Constructive comments welcomed. Oh, and, you know, fawning. *snicker*
Written: February 24, 2005
By the time Blair had raced up the stairs to the third floor, his heart was hammering from the climb as well as from excitement. He knew Jim was already home because he’d seen the blue Expedition parked in its spot, and he couldn’t wait to share his good news.
In his haste, Blair jammed the key on his first attempt, of course, but the door was immediately pulled open and Blair nearly fell against Jim when the other man pulled him forward and glanced over his shoulder, as if looking to see who was pursuing him. Recovering from the near-contact, Blair grinned up at Jim, who was automatically checking him over for injury.
“Chief, what’s wrong?” Jim asked as his hands skimmed over Blair.
Blair just laughed at Jim’s overprotectiveness, and pushed him back into the loft so he could close the door. “Nothing’s wrong, man,” he said as he tried to catch the hands patting him down. When he failed, he lightly slapped the back of his hand against Jim’s stomach. “Stop that, Jim, it tickles!”
Blair reached behind himself and closed the door. “I’m fine. I just got some great news that I wanted to tell you!”
“Oh, that’s wonderful, honey!”
Blair froze, staring up at Jim with wide eyes. “Jim?”
Jim grinned and smacked the back of Blair’s head. “Funny, Chief,” he said as he stepped aside, seemingly satisfied that Blair was indeed fine, and Blair got his first glimpse of his mother, who was standing in the living room.
“Mom!” Blair moved forward and was engulfed in silk and sage. “What are you doing here? I thought you were in Tibet, or...”
“That was last month,” Naomi replied breezily. “I just spent three weeks at a retreat in New Mexico, and you’ll never guess who I ran into!” She stared at Blair expectantly.
“Uh, no, I probably never will,” Blair said, trying to wrap his brain around the suddenness with which the conversation had been taken out of his hands.
His good news was definitely going to have to wait, and as excited as Naomi was, he really didn’t care about who she’d run into. It wasn’t often that Blair wished his mother elsewhere, but at that precise moment he ached for it to just be him and Jim so he could share his news. When he came out of his thoughts, Naomi was still waiting for him to respond.
“Oh, come on, honey, guess!” she chirped.
“Um, okay.” Blair wracked his brain. “Robert?”
“No, guess again,” Naomi encouraged him.
“Mom! I give up, please just tell me,” Blair pleaded, bringing his hands up in a gesture of prayer. He could guess his mother’s acquaintances all day, and still never guess who she’d run into.
“Oh, all right,” Naomi said, giving in gracefully. “Carl,” she told him with a pleased smile.
“Yes, you remember, Dr. Carl Lindstrom.” Her eyes softened as she relived the memory. “You talked to him for hours about that old book you found, never let it out of your sight.”
“Oh, Carl!” Blair thought it was nice that his mother had run into Dr. Lindstrom, but wasn’t sure why she was so excited about it. He glanced over at Jim, who was leaning against the island, arms crossed over his chest as he watched the reunion, and shrugged. “He’s doing well, I presume?” he asked Naomi.
“He’s doing very well. In fact, he’s heading an expedition this summer. To the Amazon.”
Blair was confused. His mother was much too happy about Carl’s good fortune and he couldn’t figure out why. She was normally not this interested in the more mundane aspects of life. “That’s... great. Right, Jim?”
“Uh, yeah, sure, Chief, great.”
Blair could tell that Jim hadn’t been paying attention, and he grinned as the other man ran the conversation through his head in an attempt to catch up.
“That’s not the best part,” Naomi interrupted their silent communication.
“It’s not,” Blair repeated.
“No, it’s not.”
Jim must have finally gotten tired of Naomi drawing the moment out. “Well, are you going to tell us the best part?” he asked, with only a hint of sarcasm.
“Blair’s going, too!” she squealed.
Blair just stared at her. “I’m what?”
Naomi barreled on, either unaware of Blair’s less than excited response, or uncaring. “He’s been getting it organized for over a month, and needed to take a break, that’s why he was at the retreat, and while he was there, he got a phone call from his secretary, who’d gotten a call from....” She broke off and waved her hand. “That’s not important. What is important is that his assistant had to cancel due to health problems, and when he told me about it, I immediately thought of you!”
“Carl, of course, needed no reminding as to who you were, and when I told him you were working on your PhD, he was thrilled! He’s going to call you to set up an interview, but it’s just a formality. You’ve got the job!” Naomi was practically bouncing with excitement. “Isn’t that wonderful?” she asked, and waited for a reply.
Blair was having difficulty breathing, much less speaking.
“Chief?” Jim called to him softly, obviously aware of his distress.
“‘M okay,” Blair assured him.
“I know.” She held up her hand as if forestalling him from speaking. “You can’t find the words. I understand.”
“I’m not sure that you do,” Blair replied, still dazed at his mother’s announcement.
Naomi took his hand between both of hers. “Oh, sweetie, I’m so proud of you.”
“That-that’s great, Mom. I hope you’ll still be proud when I tell you I’m not taking the job.”
“What? Why not?” She dropped his hand as if she’d been burned.
“Because I don’t want...”
“Chief,” Jim interrupted him.
Blair turned to Jim. “Yeah?”
“Maybe you shouldn’t dismiss it outright,” he said.
“What? What are you saying? You want me to leave?” Blair asked, once more having difficulty breathing.
“No, of course I don’t want you to leave!” Jim denied. “But, you know...” Jim made a helpless gesture.
“No, Jim, I don’t know.”
“It’s only supposed to be for six months,” Naomi interjected. “It’ll be good for you, get away from the... get back out into the field.”
Blair’s head swung from Jim to his mother, and back again. He couldn’t believe that they were even having this conversation. “I don’t want to go,” he said again, staring at the floor because it was easier than looking at either Jim or his mother.
“Sweetheart, of course you...”
“Do you both think I can’t make my own decisions? Plan my own life?”
“Of course not, darling.”
“Chief, that’s not...”
Blair interrupted Jim this time. “Balcony. Please,” he grated through clenched teeth. “Excuse us, Mom.” Blair stepped around a confused Naomi and led the way to the balcony. He heard Jim making apology noises behind him, but ignored them as he opened the balcony doors and stepped outside.
“Do you want me to leave?” Blair asked again as soon as the door had closed behind Jim. “Is this, like, perfect timing?”
“No, of course not! I already told you...”
“Then why are you so, so hot for me to go on this expedition?”
Jim sighed. “That’s not what I said. I just think you should consider it, instead of rejecting it out of hand.”
“Why?” Jim looked at him as if he was nuts.
“Yes, why?” He hoped he sounded logical instead of petulant.
“Because that’s your life, Chief. It’s what you do. You go on expeditions, and write papers, and teach, and whatever else PhDs do after they get their PhD.”
“What if I don’t want that anymore?” Blair asked.
“How can you not want that anymore?”
“Maybe I found something better.”
Jim looked like he wanted to believe Blair, but expected an instance of ‘too good to be true’. “Like what?”
“You.” Before Jim could jump in with whatever argument he had on the tip of his tongue, Blair pushed on. “I’ve wanted to meet a real live Sentinel ever since I found out they, you, existed. And I did. And you’re just as amazing as I always thought you’d be. But that’s not the only thing you are to me. I told you before, it’s not just the Sentinel thing. It’s about friendship. And I meant that.” Blair felt himself getting emotional. “Do you think I’d just leave when something better came along? Is that what you think of me?”
“No!” Jim placed his hands on Blair’s shoulder. “I just...” He swallowed hard. “I don’t want you to feel trapped.”
“It’s not a trap if you’re right where you want to be,” Blair replied.
Jim gave him a slight smile. “No, it’s not. Are you sure?”
Blair reached up and placed one hand on Jim’s, and then looked into Jim’s eyes when he said, “I’m positive. There’s no place I’d rather be.”
Jim’s smile widened; he cupped the side of Blair’s face with one hand. “You’d tell me if you weren’t happy with the way things are, right?”
Blair chest heaved as he tried to draw in some much-needed air. He wasn’t sure if he was reading too much into Jim’s question, but thought that now, while they were saying things that needed saying, might be the time to answer in complete honesty.
“What if I did want to...change some things?” he asked, his voice hoarse with nerves.
“Like what?” Jim asked, almost eagerly.
Blair closed his eyes and turned his face so that his lips brushed Jim’s palm. Jim’s breath hitched.
Blair turned back to face Jim and opened his eyes. “Is it something we can discuss, or should I accept that job?” he asked hesitantly, afraid that he’d done the wrong thing now that he’d let his feelings be known.
Jim huffed out a breath. “I should have know that, even how, you’d want to talk,” he said, trying to lighten the heavy mood that had fallen. Blair squeezed the hand on his shoulder, and Jim must have realized he was standing on a precipice. “Sometimes actions speak louder than words,” he said softly, and tugged Blair towards him. He kissed Blair’s forehead, lingering just a little too long, and then pulled him into an embrace.
Blair closed his eyes and heaved a sigh of relief. “So, I can stay?”
“I wish you would,” Jim whispered.
Blair wrapped one arm around Jim’s waist. “That’s good,” he said, and then he started shaking.
“Blair?” Jim asked worriedly.
“I’m all right,” Blair reassured him. “It’s just that, this has been a really weird day.”
“Oh, your good news!” Jim remembered.
“Yeah. You know, with everything else that’s happened, can we talk about that later?”
Jim pulled back a little and frowned down at him.
“Don’t get me wrong, man, it’s still good news. It’s just, this is better.” He couldn’t hold back the grin.
“And we still have to face your mother,” Jim added, glancing back into the apartment.
“Oh, yeah, Mom. We?” he asked surprised, when he finally realized what Jim had said.
Jim smiled down at him, and then looked uncertain. “It is we now, right?”
Blair shivered, and gripped the back of Jim’s shirt as if he might try and get away.
“It is, most definitely, we,” he agreed happily.
“Well, let’s get this over with. I mean, how bad can it be, right?”
Blair laughed. “Right,” he lied, sneaking a peek at his mother over Jim’s arm. “No biggie at all.”
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