Enough is Enough
"I mean, I don't know why I should have been wasting my time on him when there were actual victims out there, y' know?" Detective Keller continued to expound on his views to an uncomfortable-looking Rafe and Brown regarding a case that he'd handled in his previous assignment, involving the rape of a gay man.
No one noticed Jim looking daggers at the newest member of Major Crimes until he stood so suddenly that his chair tipped and hit the ground with a crash. His temper had been rising since the day Keller had inexplicably arrived in the department, and this latest round of crap from the new detective pushed the needle well into the red.
Silence reigned as all eyes watched him stalk toward the captain's office just as Simon Banks was coming out into the bullpen.
"Alright, I have had it with that moron!" he shouted in the face of his obviously confused boss. "I am sick and tired of his stupid, hateful, bigoted, homophobic comments, and this is the last straw! It's one thing to be an ass on your own time, but when it stands in the way of giving everyone the treatment they deserve and seeing justice done, well that's just not OK! Do you hear me, Keller?" With a near growl he started toward the other man, but Simon grabbed his arm and held him back.
"Look, Jim, settle down here. Let's talk about this," Simon soothed, trying to pull his infuriated detective into his office. Jim shrugged off Simon's hand, but made no further move toward Keller even though the violence was pouring off him in waves.
"I don't want to hear any more of his talking," Jim snarled. "What the hell is he doing here, anyway -- someone with an attitude like that should be taken off the street, not rewarded!"
The look of utter hatred that he was leveling at Keller shifted suddenly to the right and softened slightly, and all heads, including Keller's, turned to see Blair Sandburg walk in after a morning spent at Rainier.
"No, it's you who should be taken off the street, Ellison," Keller sneered. "The way you're sticking up for the fags -- I should have realized before that you're sleeping with your partner here. I mean, look at him, I knew he was queer, but I didn't get it about the two of you 'til today. It's disgusting! They shouldn't let your kind on the force!"
"I don't know what you're talking about, man!" Blair protested immediately. "We aren't sleeping together!"
With the same lightning speed that his rage had appeared, Jim's demeanor changed again. Gone was the rigid posture and barely-leashed fury, and in its place was a languid sensuality that was normally seen in nightclubs and bedrooms and not the middle of police headquarters. As the jaws of all the entranced onlookers dropped, he sauntered over to Keller with a walk that exuded sex, sliding right up into his personal space and looking up through lowered lashes to lock his gaze with the deer-in-the-headlights look of the other man.
"Blair is right," he said in a husky voice that was barely recognizable as the often gruff detective's. "We're not sleeping together -- because Blair isn't gay." He drew his finger down Keller's cheek, running the tip of his tongue across his upper lip as his prey watched in horrified fascination. It was as if everyone in the bullpen held their collective breath.
"But I am," Jim said, his hand traveling down Keller's neck and across his collarbone. Keller's eyes grew even wider, but he said nothing, moved not at all. In the space of a heartbeat Jim stopped his caress and grabbed a handful of Keller's shirtfront and held fast.
"And that's not a crime," he said with deceptive calm. "And if you, or the department, or the fucking Mayor himself, has a problem with that, then you can all just kiss my ass."
With that, Jim released his grip on the shocked detective's shirt, gave the wrinkled cloth a tap that was more than a pat, less than a shove, and strode from the bullpen.
Jim didn't halt on the way down to his truck, not caring whether Blair or Simon or the hounds of hell were on his heels, just needing to get out of there. He knew himself well enough to realize that he wasn't going to be good for any sort of rational discussion of what had just happened, not yet anyway, and the small scrap of his instinct for self-preservation that he had left argued that he might have a hope of keeping his job if he let things cool down.
Another part of him was arguing that if he lost his job over standing up for what was right, then it wasn't a job he needed to keep. If the Cascade PD didn't uphold the law for all the citizens and not just the ones who fit a certain mold, then he didn't want to be part of it any longer.
His attention focused inward, even with Sentinel senses he didn't notice Sandburg behind him until Blair got into the passenger side of the truck as Jim was cranking the engine. Jim spared his partner a single glance, saw that the younger man wasn't about to explode in fury or horror or whatever-the-hell else he might be feeling, and headed for home without a word.
Apparently Sandburg knew enough not to push until they got home, because they made the ride back to the loft in what wasn't perhaps a comfortable silence, but one which didn't add too much to the stress of the situation.
It wasn't until Jim had grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge and flopped down on the couch with unaccustomed vigor that Blair opened his mouth at all.
"So, what'd I miss?" he asked, a small smile on his face as he got comfortable on the other end of the sofa. It was the perfect thing to say, Jim thought, not judgmental or confrontational or too horribly serious... maybe they could actually have this conversation without their world falling down around their ears.
"Well," Jim started after a pause, "you might have noticed that the new guy Keller is a complete asshole."
Blair gave a short laugh. "Yeah, that hadn't escaped my attention. How did a guy like that end up in Major Crimes, anyway?"
"Who knows? Probably some convoluted chain of political favors, you know the drill."
"Yeah, it happens everywhere, man."
"I'd just had enough, you know?"
"He's been making everybody crazy, definitely... but what did he do today, Jim? What finally flipped the switch for you?"
Jim ran his hands through his short hair and sighed. "He'd cornered Rafe and H and was telling them about some poor kid in a club who'd agreed to a dance and ended up in the hospital with major tearing after the other guy wouldn't accept that a dance was all he was getting."
He grunted in disgust and took a long swig of his beer, remembering the look on Keller's face as he'd been spewing his filth. Jim had run into his type often enough, the ones who professed to be repulsed by homosexuality yet couldn't stop talking about it, thinking about it... he'd heard that some experts felt that those who were the most homophobic were the ones who might actually be repressing their own attraction toward the same sex. He didn't know if that was the case with Keller, but given his reaction to Jim's impromptu show, he thought that the theory might have some merit.
"Anyway, when he started talking about how the cops ought to be helping people who were victims of actual crimes, as if that kid somehow put himself in the hospital and didn't deserve justice, well, I just kind of snapped. That's not why we're cops, you know? It's not supposed to be about protecting only those that you like. I despise bullies like him, and I've had it. If the brass have a problem with me about it, that's just going to have to be how it is, because I'm not putting up with this bullshit anymore."
He'd been looking everywhere but at his partner during his explanation, but he finally looked back and caught a look of pride on Blair's face, and the relief he felt at seeing that expression and not one of disgust was enough to let him relax back into the sofa a little bit.
They sat in silence for several minutes, finishing their beer and obviously mulling things over.
"So you're gay?" Blair finally asked.
"Well... not exactly."
"Not exactly? You gave a pretty convincing impression," Blair countered with another smile, taking any sting from his words.
Jim laughed wryly. "Yeah, I can do convincing. I just mean that despite what I told Keller, I'm not exclusively attracted to men -- bisexual really, but leaning toward the male side of the scale."
"I have to admit I'm surprised, what with all the women in the last few years, and Carolyn..."
Jim gave a small snort. "What I've acted on hasn't always matched what I'd prefer, Chief."
"Ah," Sandburg said with a nod.
Jim was beyond pleased at how well it was going... but it wasn't over yet. He knew his partner was an open-minded and fair person, not one who would hold this sort of difference against someone, but still...
"So... is this going to change things?" he asked quietly, almost afraid to hear Blair's response.
He couldn't imagine Blair leaving... partly in the sense that he would truly be surprised if Jim's sexuality were that important to him, but also in the sense that he simply couldn't force himself to imagine what it would be like without Sandburg in the loft. But Blair wouldn't be the first guy to be OK with homosexuality in theory but still not want to live in close quarters with a gay man.
Even though he thought he was prepared, a shock ran through him at the answer.
"I really hope so," Blair said quietly, and it took Jim a long moment to register that the look in Blair's eyes and the tone of his voice were not that of someone about to step back from their relationship.
Though he'd always found the phrase "time stood still" to be a rather fanciful notion, Jim understood the feeling behind the words as they looked at one another. It was as if nothing existed outside the two of them, no cars moved on the street outside, no sounds of people moving and talking came from within the building... it was just them, locked in the moment.
Slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, they leaned toward one another on the sofa. Jim watched as Blair's hand reached out toward him, seemingly in slow motion, and came to rest gently on his forearm.
Jim looked at Blair's hand as if it had suddenly acquired a life of its own, felt the warmth of it seep through the fabric of his shirt and send tingles up and down his arm from the point of contact. Then he looked up at Blair's face, and drew in a ragged breath at the unguarded look of hope and longing that he saw there.
Holding that breath for a moment, his mind raced through a list of all the reasons there were not to meet Blair in this, not to show his own matching need, not to take that step forward instead of a step back...
Then he let all those reasons go, releasing them with his breath like formless ghosts, and he covered Blair's hand with his own.
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