By Aouda Fogg
Shifting the small fetish, Jim slid his book onto the shelf. It wasn't until he nudged the little statue back into place that he realized he'd done it without thinking.
The realization left him both amused and bemused. Picking up the statue, he studied it. The deceptively simple lines clearly indicated a large cat ready to spring; he vaguely remembered Sandburg saying something about it coming from Africa. He could ask, he supposed, but he wasn't really in the mood for the multi-part story sure to come with the explanation.
A quick scan of the loft -- his loft -- told him just how many bits and pieces had appeared over the last few weeks. A mask, several Kachinas, a wall-hanging, statues, some things that looked like rocks, to say nothing of the man currently ensconced in the corner of the couch, his nose in a book.
A lot of new stuff to go with the new roommate.
And yet, he kind of liked the results.
The room had new... balance.
'Well,' he told himself as he put the fetish back, 'we'll see. But the minute this shifts into clutter, it's all gone.'
"There is a god!" Jim muttered. His leg hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, he'd had to put up with the Deputy Chief all day, and his stomach was convinced that he'd severed all ties between it and his mouth.
Upstairs, however, just a few more steps away, he could hear Sandburg puttering around the kitchen, banging a pot and lid, setting something on the counter, now stirring. And judging by the smell -- something that proved the existence of a benevolent deity out there somewhere -- Blair had decided tonight was Moroccan night.
He loved Moroccan night. It not only meant the soup he could never remember the name of, but, best of all, it mean bastilla. Now, he was the first to admit, the first time Blair'd made it, he'd been highly skeptical -- come on! Chicken and cinnamon? In phyllo? Yeah, right. It was, however, one of the best things ever created, and he loved it. He loved it so much, he always made a point of thanking Sandburg for making it. That's how good it was.
Feeling a rush of affection for his future partner, Jim stepped out of the elevator and thought, 'I am so glad to be home!'
'Huh, that's new.' The thought flashed across his mind as he fished for his keys. When had he started looking forward to getting home so much? He stood for a moment, pondering, wondering what had changed. All he knew was it had started long before he'd been in physical therapy, long before Blair had started at the Academy, long before the dissertation disaster.
Putting the thought away for the moment, he strode forward, the ache in his leg easing a bit, and smiled in return at the grin that greeted him as he opened the door.
Pleased with the progress they were making with their backlog of paperwork, Jim leaned back in his chair. Enjoying the quiet in the deserted bull pen, he balanced on two chair legs and crossed his arms behind his head.
"All six legs on the floor, James," his partner said, sotto voice, without looking up.
"Bite me, Sandburg."
"Nah, still too full from lunch."
Shaking his head, Jim righted his chair -- not because of Blair's suggestion, of course, but because he wanted a snack from the break room. He got up, mentally reviewing the choices, debating, salty? Sweet? Crunchy?
The quiet words made him stop in his tracks. "Excuse me?" he demanded, going for menacing even though he knew it wouldn't work.
"You heard me. You had chocolate cake at lunch. Try the bags of almonds I got the guy to add."
"That's exactly what I was going for, Chief," Jim replied, trying for a lofty tone of voice this time.
Blair just returned to his paperwork, so Jim walked away. A few steps later, the retort Jim was waiting for drifted towards him, Sentinel-soft; "Yeah, right, and I voted Republican in the last election." It made him grin.
He'd only gone two feet, however, when Joel McAfee came though the doors into Major Crime. Jim's grin widened as he stepped forward to greet the man he'd gone through the Academy with. They shook hands, traded insults.
After catching up, McAfee started towards Simon's office for the meeting he'd come for, then paused. "You're looking good, Ellison; you seeing someone new?"
The question threw Jim for an instant because he hadn't quite decided how he was going to handle questions like that. But he couldn't -- wouldn't -- lie, so he shrugged innocently, combined it with a slightly sheepish grin, and let his old friend draw the conclusion Jim'd known he would.
"Oh, yeah, Ellison; someone's keeping you happy!"
They parted, and a few minutes later, Jim made his way back to his desk, munching a couple almonds.
"So, Ellison," his partner queried softly as Jim slid in behind his desk. "You seeing someone new?"
"Nah, just seeing someone in a new light, Chief," he replied equally quietly.
They grinned at each other across their desks, letting their eyes say all the things they couldn't say at work.
"Gimme some almonds."
"Thought you weren't hungry."
"Changed my mind."
"Good thing I like you."
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