Notes: Written Gothphyle’s holiday present. Happiest of seasons to you, Alee. Sorry this isn't the happiest of stories.967 words. slash.
Warnings: bring kleenex.
The velvet throw still smelled like home, even after all these years. More particularly, it still smelled like Blair: the heady combination of mossy organic shampoo, green tea, and warm-silk skin that Jim would always associate with his partner.
Four years since he had last come home to find Blair there on the sofa, the blue green blanket wrapped around his shoulders, curls spilling onto the rough-soft nap of the fabric. Four years since Blair had awakened, and looked up at him with the affection that had never dimmed with time. The glasses were thicker, it was true, but they only served to illuminate the love that shone through his wide, blue eyes.
"It's about time you came home, old man," Blair had teased, yawning, and reaching up for a kiss.
Jim gave it gladly. "Who're you calling old? I'm not the one with a head full of gray hair." He ran a hand through the wild thicket as he pulled Blair closer. They still kissed with passion, if not as much fervor.
"You're not the one with a head full of hair," Blair said affectionately, looking at the still brownish strip of fuzz Jim sported. "Doesn't matter. You'll always be the he-man who threw me up against the wall the very first day I met you."
"And you'll always be the insolent pup who leapt into my life like a mutt on a mailman."
"I really was hard to get rid of, wasn't I?" Blair reminisced.
"And why would I ever want to?"
Ultimately, it wasn't Alex and her twisted obsessions that took Blair away from him, at least not at first. They hadn't known at the time how her actions had weakened Blair's heart. It wasn't the path of a stray bullet, or even Jim's misguided distrust after the dissertation went public.
That had been close, though. How could he have ever thought Blair would betray him? Blair loved him. He'd given up everything for Jim. His whole life, all the plans he'd made, his dreams for the future. And Jim had let him, as if somehow being a Sentinel - being one in a million -- meant that it was his due.
Really, it had been Blair who was special. Blair who had gotten under Jim's skin since that first day, when he'd pretended to be Jim's new physician. Fucking gutsy kid.
And God, hadn't he proven that nearly every day of his life? Proven it with reassurances that talked a jumper down from a ledge; with scars marking where he'd been harmed, bloodied and broken for leaping head first into danger to save another. Usually it was Jim he'd saved.
Jim wondered if Blair had known this. If he had told Blair often enough, beyond the "well done, Chief's and the pats on the back. Sure, he'd said "I love you," and not just after they'd had sex. But did Blair know how much? How the word "Guide" meant so much more to Jim than the person who soothed him when his screwed up senses made Jim a tangle of nerves. With just his presence, Blair unraveled the knots in Jim's heart.
Jim was almost always cold now. Arthritis, and what he'd always thought of as the life-force slowly leaking from his old bones meant that he could never get warm enough. He wished he could go home and warm himself in Blair's bed, the way he'd used to.
The kid had put off so much heat, and always been willing to share it. Some of Jim's happiest memories came from being hot and sweaty -- and not necessarily naked, though that was always a plus -- in Blair's arms.
He remembered a time when Blair had been the cold one. When he'd woken up scared and shaking, body wracked with coughs that Jim felt like body blows. He remembered a feeling like drowning.
Jim had apologized more times than he could count, even though Blair had insisted it wasn't his fault. It was this near loss that made Jim understand just how important Blair was to him.
Beyond Sentinel and Guide, and all of that mysticism; beyond their partnership in the Cascade PD, Blair's death that first time had taught Jim that Blair meant everything to him. His coming back to life taught him that even he didn't get third chances.
Blair's recovery from the Pneumonia caused by the incident in the fountain had been yet another miracle. The day he was allowed to come home, Jim had given his vow to protect him forever.
He'd also told Blair he loved him, and kissed him for the first time. It had been heartfelt, but mindful of Blair's fragile condition.
Their last kiss had been gentle, too. Jim had carefully removed the canula, and bent down to softly touch his lips to Blair's. He imagined he could feel Blair pressing back, though he knew that couldn't possibly be true. Even his senses played tricks on him, sometimes.
Blair's breath had been raspy and weak. Loud and labored to even the casual observer, to Jim it was deafening. It scraped him raw. And he didn't need instruments to tell that his partner's heart rate was slowing, following the path of his organs as they gave up their fight.
There had been times over the past four decades that Jim had cursed his Sentinel abilities. Hated the headaches and zone-outs, illnesses caused by smelling too much perfume, or the sound of a dog's incessant barking ten blocks away.
But now he was especially grateful for them. Because with his abilities he could still sense Blair's presence; as strong as it had ever been, and just as dear. Jim's hands shook a little as he stroked the blanket in his hands. Even after all these years, the velvet throw still smelled like home.
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