Light Up My Room

Summery: Death. Duty. Metaphorical elephants. Oh, and love. Post-TSBBS JB slash, extended from original version.

A/N: Was re-reading and didn't like how it ended so... easily. This story was sort of a knee-jerk response to all those 'Blair-tries-to-be-a-cop-and-it- doesn't-work-out' fics; inspired by many things, among them jelly beans, the late hour, nostalgia for a damp, cold climate, and, of course, the Barenaked Ladies. Gotta love those Canadians, man. Unbetaed, so all mistakes are mine. Sorry.

Disclaimer: Recognisable characters belong to Pet Fly, lyrics to Light Up My Room belong to the Barenaked Ladies, and while both make my life a joy, I don't own either. Babum.

Light Up My Room

A hydrofield cuts through my neighborhood
Somehow that always just made me feel good
I can put a spare bulb in my hand
And light up my yard

Late at night when the wires in the walls
Sing in tune with the din of the falls
I'm conducting it all while I sleep
To light this whole town

If you question what I would do
To get over and be with you
Lift you up over everything
To light up my room
My room

There's a shopping cart in the ravine
Foam on the creek is like pop and ice-cream
A field full of tires that is always on fire
To light my way home

There are luxuries we can't afford
But in our house we never get bored
We can dance to the radio station
That plays in our teeth

If you question what I would do
To get over and be with you
Lift you up over everything
To light up my room
My room

It all started with the death of Danny Heint.

It wasn't anything they hadn't seen before. It especially wasn't anything Jim and Blair hadn't seen before, shit no. Some days it seemed every psychopath in the universe gravitated towards Cascade, like satellites gravitated towards planets. Heint wasn't more twisted than Lash, or more charismatic than Kincaid, or more dangerous than Zeller. He was a sick boy with an interesting collection of knives and a vast knowledge of Scripture, and that was all. But it was enough.

Danny Heint inflicted eight stab-wounds to the abdomen, shoulders and left thigh of Jim Ellison, and it was enough. He died approximately three minutes after inflicting these wounds with six bullets in his neck, chest and head. He was the first man Blair Sandburg ever killed. It was enough.

Simon Banks hated this waiting room. He hated the chair he was sitting in, which was very hard and, he suspected, designed for people who were five feet tall and built like twigs. He hated the smells of antiseptic and vomit, and blood, and ammonia. He hated the noises, which were of people sniffling, crying, whining, arguing and muttering incomprehensible medical babble. He hated the coffee. He hated the décor. He hated the faint, tinny muzak drifting from the speakers which were wedged into the corners of the ceiling.

Most of all, he hated how familiar it was.

Simon sighed, yawned hugely, then sipped his thin, tepid coffee and sighed again. Oh, God, he was tired. And worried. And guilty, for some unaccountable reason. And also tired. Hell, if anyone asked him why he was looking like he was about to hurl, he could just blame it on fatigue and bad hospital joe, and his macho cover would stay intact.

He snorted – a little too loudly, but he was past the point of caring.

In the days of yore, Simon had often had to remind himself that Blair Sandburg was an unqualified tag-along, was not Jim Ellison's official partner, and was not supposed to be out with Simon's detectives, battling the criminal element. He had gotten so used to telling Sandburg that he wasn't a cop that nowadays he had to remind himself that Sandburg was a cop, and therefore didn't need anyone babysitting him.


Simon looked up to see Megan Connor hovering by him, awkwardly proffering two large Styrofoam cups and a giant muffin with all the considerable dignity she had, even at one in the morning with tousled hair and no makeup on, and purple splotches under her eyes.

He stared at the offering for another moment, temporarily at a loss as to what he was supposed to do with it. At last a concerned gust of breath and a further motion from Connor reminded him: Right. Take it from her. No problem.

So he took the muffin and the coffee, and realized that it was a really good-smelling muffin, full of fat blueberries, and the coffee was piping hot and smelled even better, and he stumbled over a belated thanks which Connor waved away with a smile. "Take 'em, boss." She pushed her hair out of her eyes and frowned down at him. "You should go home and get some sleep, sir. Really. We'll keep the watch until he's awake."

He opened his mouth, and then shut it again when he realized he didn't have anything to say. He was just glad that they understood – that someone understood the need for a vigil until the morning broke and washed this hideous night away.

Connor sat down next to him with a wince; he belatedly noticed the bandages around her shoulder, which he could see the bulk of under her t-shirt. "I was going to check on Sandy," she said, "But he's locked himself in the dunny until it's over. I think he just doesn't want to look at any of us. Jesus, that poor bloke. He never even wanted a gun."

"Like it or not, it's a damn good thing he had it," Simon snapped, much more sharply than he'd intended.

Connor gave him a level look, and he immediately felt disgraced. "I know that, captain. I'm glad the bastard is dead. I'm just saying: I wish it'd been one of us that had to shoot him. Not Sandy. Not the kid."

Simon took a long sip of his coffee, savouring its warmth, its flavour, its high caffeine content. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, and in a low voice, he said, "I know. We can't protect him forever, Connor. He knows the risks. He did what he had to."

"Yeah," Connor said flatly. She looked like she was restraining herself from saying more. Instead, she sighed gustily through her nose, and after a while she stood up again, stretching cautiously. "Boss? You want to give him a go?"

It took Simon a moment to decipher the Aussie-speak, but then he shook his head sharply. "No," he said. "He'll want to be alone now. Let Jim deal with him later. Right now... Let's just leave him alone. It's the best we can do."

Jim woke up around six o'clock the next morning, in post-op. He tried to prop himself up on his elbows, but his muscles wouldn't cooperate. Every single inch of him felt like it was on fire.

He tried to say, "Blair?" but it didn't come out. His throat felt cold, gunky and painful; he remembered yelling. He remembered blood. He said it again, and this time he managed enough volume to rouse the figure slumped in the chair by his bed. Blair started, and then stared at him. It was a very disturbing stare, equal parts relief, misery and hollowness.

"Hey," Jim said, in that hoarse, cracked voice. He licked his lips – they tasted like plastic. "Some water?"

It diverted Blair's attention; he practically scrabbled for the ice chips, but the hand that spooned them into Jim's mouth was steady and careful. Jim sucked them gratefully, though the water tasted strangely like dust and was so cold it hurt his throat. He wished that Blair would sit a little closer, so Jim could feel his warmth, maybe touch him – if only his limbs would work. He was sure the pain would go away if he could only touch his partner. It had always been like that.

"Hey," Blair said back. He looked almost wary of Jim, almost like he didn't know him. For some reason, that hurt even more than the wounds on his body. "How are you?"

"Hurts," Jim said vaguely.

He didn't like the way Blair looked away so sharply, how he pushed the button for the morphine with a shaking hand. He looked so guilty. Jim hated that. He hated it, and hated Danny Heint for putting it there.

He remembered blood...

"Blair," he croaked. "Listen..."

The morphine was kicking in. Blair scooted closer, put a hand near his. He grabbed it, thankfully, and squeezed it as he let out a long breath. He turned his face half into the pillows, ashamed to say it, and ashamed of being ashamed. "... Thanks," he said. "Thank you." For rescuing me. For helping me. For staying by my side. Jim could never say these things, but he was sure Blair understood.

Jim was out of hospital a week later, walking unassisted two weeks later, back on duty another fortnight after that. In that first week, Blair had manned their desk alone, submitted the inquiry alone, wrote up the paperwork alone, and if he seemed unusually subdued, well, dammit, his partner was lying in hospital and IA was breathing down his neck. Jesus, what did you expect?

Only Conner, bless her tenacious little cotton socks, managed to peg what was actually wrong with any certainty. It took the combined efforts of Jim, Jim's doctor, every pretty nurse on staff and whoever was visiting at the time to get Blair to go home and sleep in his own bed, but when they managed it, Megan reported, in an offhand, conversational manner that didn't fool Jim for a second, all that had happened at work that day.

The third time this happened, Jim was silent for several moments after Megan had finished speaking, just staring at the foot of his hospital bed like the embroidered blanket thrown over his feet was the most fascinating thing in the world. At last he said quietly, "He'd never killed anyone before."

"I guessed," said Megan. Then she opened her mouth, and shut it again, and then after a pause added with immense frustration, "No-one blames him."

"He knows that."

"You don't blame him."

"He knows that."

"... He blames himself."

Jim's jaw twitched. "He shot Heint. He emptied a clip into the guy; that's deadly force and then some. He never wanted a gun. He never wanted to know how to use it, let alone carry the damn thing every day. He's not upset that Heint is dead, he's upset that he made Blair kill him."

Megan's look was filled with amusement and weariness and incredulity. Jim hadn't known that a person could fit all three on one face, but there it was. "When did you become a head-shrinker, Ellison?" she said, though she could guess.

"Been hanging 'round Sandburg too long," he replied, gruff in tone and still not looking at her, and it could have meant anything she wanted it to.

When Jim came home, Blair made him take the spare room to save a nightly trek up the stairs, and every night, made him lay down, stripped and staring at the ceiling, while Blair changed the bandages on his thigh and hip and shoulders. Jim knew perfectly well that, if left to his own devices, he himself would have let those damn bandages stay there until they began to stink, and he would have slept in his own room, to hell with the hole in his leg. It took about an hour and a half, each night, Blair leaning over him or straddling him or kneeling between his legs and giving him everything with firm and gentle hands. Every night, when he thought Jim was asleep, he'd let it all out, keening into his hands to muffle the noise. It was enough to make Jim scream. But only when he was certain Blair was out of the house.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Jim had brought Blair back from the dead, but not really. The kid was halfway there, half-dead, half his soul extinguished, before Jim reached him. So Jim left half of his soul there as well, as compensation (because one person had to die, right then, at that time, and two halves made one, right?), and joined their remaining halves together. The wolf and the jaguar had merged. They were one. And then they never talked about it, and got on with their lives as if nothing had changed. But something had.

There was an elephant in the kitchen; sometimes Jim was forced to acknowledge it, even if Blair wouldn't, couldn't. There was something between them, huge and frightening and totally unknown. He couldn't name it. Okay, he could, but calling it love was like saying the ocean was a body of water. He'd known love in many forms; he loved his brother, loved his parents, had loved Carolyn – but those things felt pathetically small and uncomplicated in comparison; an amoeba next to a whale. Blair was everything to him, forever, closer than a lover and more permanent than blood. Jesus, what a mess.

For his part, Blair sacked out on the couch more often than not. When questioned, he would only favour Jim with a strained smile that had none of its old enthusiasm, just saying things like, "Hey, man, when's the last time you took your pills?" or "Sure I can't get ya anything, buddy?" not even bothering to foist any disgusting herbal remedies or alternative cuisine on him anymore, or playing any weird music, and these days all Blair's clothes seemed your pretty basic cop ensemble. He'd stopped wearing those weird necklaces made of grass and seedpods and whatever, and that, that wasn't a good thing. Jim could see the light dying in his eyes, bit by bit, every day, some terrible deliberation replacing the idealistic hippie- wannabe with a straight-up cop who had killed and found only satisfaction in it.

The jaguar wanted to pick the kid up by the neck and shake him like the recalcitrant cub he was, and Jim knew what was going on in his head.

Blair Sandburg is dead! Long live Blair Sandburg.

It came to a head a month after the fact, when Jim was finally back on duty. He hadn't slept well for all the time he'd been back home, and his senses had staged a sit-down protest somewhere in the back of his brain, caused by constant worry and the cause of it as well, because now he couldn't keep an eye or ear or nose or whatever on Sandburg anymore and frankly, that really pissed him off. The kid didn't even realise anything was wrong with Jim, and that was most worrying of all.

He lay dozing one night (back in the loft at last, what bliss), too troubled by the lump his guts had knotted themselves into to sleep properly. Just lying there, listening to the rain, watching the water-worms squiggle their way down the glass and drifting from half-dream to half- dream... and then he felt a thought crash through his skull with such force that it felt like he'd just been smashed across the back of the head with a lead pipe.


Jim sat up gasping, shoulders wedged up against the headboard and legs tangled in the twisted, sweat-soaked sheets. Unprotected by the covers, he felt the chill air sink into his flesh like teeth.


"Oh, Christ," he mumbled. He'd known this was coming.

The jaguar stood on the foot of his bed, glaring at him, agitated and twitching with some great desire. Jim shook his head and scrunched his eyes, annoyed and sleepy and wishing only to be left alone with his frustrated, circular thoughts. Without warning, the jaguar struck him across the face with one massive paw, almost making him shout with surprise, and bringing him unwillingly to full consciousness. At last, he became aware.

His senses had returned to him, fuelled by urgency. From the room downstairs came faint sounds – muffled sobs, staccato breathing; the noise of bad dreams, barely audible even to Jim's ears. Without thinking, he was out of bed, down the stairs, across the loft and through the doors of Blair's room, and suddenly he was crouching at the edge of the futon with no idea what to do.

The storm lulled; for a few long moments, the lightning ceased. By the faint illumination of the cloud-bedraggled moon, the tears that clung to Blair's eyelashes sparkled like glass beads, his skin was cast in porcelain – and Jim was almost knocked on his ass by the exquisite, heartbreaking beauty of the guy who was only supposed to have spent a week in his spare room.

This was a condition that came and went: sometimes Blair was like a brother to him, sometimes like an uncle, sometimes like that annoying nephew your least favourite relative insists on handing over to you... and then, at these times, he was fallen to earth, a study in ethereal beauty and the inspiration of such longing that it shamed Jim, frightened him. It was often distressing and always bittersweet, this unnamable thing between them; he'd even caught Blair looking at him like this, had smelled it often, though he never called the kid on it. There was nothing that didn't work both ways for them. It was just what was. It was their elephant.

A flicker of movement in his peripheral vision drew his eyes away. The jaguar leapt on the bed, making no indentation in the mattress as it circled Blair, nuzzling him, purring, eventually lying down next to the twitching figure like an oversized house cat. It looked at him, significantly, with a remarkably pointed expression for a jaguar.

"No way," whispered Jim.

The jaguar kept staring at him, and then ducked its head to nose the tumble of curls. Blair jerked and whimpered again, his face drawn. Tears began to streak down his face.

"It's a line," Jim said in a cracked, hoarse voice. "You can't cross the line, we've never..."

But the jaguar faded away.

Jim stood there for a moment longer, turning this information over and over in his head, trying to see the shape of it, and then, very hesitantly, he stretched out his fingers and touched a tear resting on the pale, stricken face.

The cool wetness felt odd against his finger, and when Blair gave a small moan he nearly bolted from the room, mystical instructions be damned... but almost immediately, Blair began to quiet. Slightly encouraged, Jim leaned further in and touched his hair, and then, after a while, began to stroke the curls, slowly, soothingly, until all he could hear were soft, even breaths and the baying storm. His own eyelids began to feel heavy, and he was lulled into an almost trance-like state – not a zone-out, just a heavy calm – by the repetitive gesture and the silk under his hand, and the thrumming, lashing sound of the driving rain. It was warmer in the smaller room than it was upstairs in the loft.

But he couldn't stay. His legs were protesting at the awkward position, he really needed to get some sleep, and waking up to Blair staring at him like he'd gone nuts was not how he wanted to start his weekend. Besides, he could sleep now, he knew: Blair was totally calm, his face peaceful at last, and Jim would sleep well with that knowledge. His work here was done. He could go back upstairs to his own bed. Any time, now...

Jim sighed. With great reluctance, feeling like he was letting go of a lifeline, he lifted his hand from Blair's head.

Blair began to shift again. Jim took it for just mild disturbance, but as he rose to his feet (joints cracking loudly in the darkness), distress creased Blair's brow, and he began to mumble and whisper once more, barely audible protests, names like Lash, Naomi, Heint, Jim, Jim, God, Jim! over and over and just like that, it was as if Jim hadn't done anything. Growling with distress and frustration, Jim put his face in his hands. He looked up as another spear of lightning rent the sky outside, and in that momentary flash, he saw again the outline of the jaguar, curled up close to Blair like some monstrous pet. Or a lover.

Jim gave up. Elephant in the fucking kitchen, man, and here he was, here now, on the edge of... something. The precipice in front, the wolves behind. It was enough to make you crazy. It was enough.

He lay down on the small bed, acutely aware that he was half-naked, half- crazy, half-hard, Jesus. He lay down, and Blair's breathing evened out; Blair, now utterly calm again, smiled a little in his sleep and snuggled back against him. Jim gave up. He put his arms around the sleeping figure, too tired and frozen and overwhelmed to do anything else, and the smell of Blair, the heat of him, the feel of him, leaning against Jim with such contentment and trust, was enough to make Jim lay down, just hold Blair in his arms and listen to the storm and try, huh, try not to feel like he'd just been sat on by an elephant.

Blair's alarm went off at seven o'clock, because he'd forgotten that it was Saturday, and he had to wriggle over Jim to slap it off.

Then he wriggled right back down again, resuming the position he'd been in before. Only a slight tremor in his muscles contested the idea that he was actually perfectly okay with this. After a while Blair whispered "Hey," which wasn't the response Jim had imagined at all.

After a while, Jim whispered "Hey," back, because he couldn't think what else to say. It was still pitch-black out – the storm hadn't let up any.

Blair craned his neck to look at him, and Jim stared back. There must have been a question in his eyes, or probably a sort of incredulity, because Blair said, "So. I had this dream last night."

Jim blinked at him, letting the knowledge show. They were so close that Jim could have kissed him without having to move much at all. Blair ducked his head so his nose was pressed against Jim's throat and said, "Yeah. Well. Then I had another dream. A different one. A very different dream, Jim."

Jim didn't have to kiss him.

It was a strange morning after that, both of them bustling around the kitchen; it wasn't as if they were ignoring what had happened, it was just that, in truth, they didn't quite know what had happened, or whether it was still happening. Jim ate his bagel, feeling like he was sitting in a bunker waiting for the firing to start again. He had started something, but he hadn't finished it. Not yet.

Blair seemed to realise it too. There was maybe just a little hint of nervous bounce in his step, and it had been missing for so long that Jim could neither understand nor comprehend how he had ever thought it irritating. It was like that first, gasping breath after the fountain, the first physical sign that Blair was still holding on, still fighting.

There was nothing on tv, and there was little in the fridge that would make a decent lunch, so Blair braved the rain to grab some Mexican food and a rented vid. He came home half an hour later with fresh ingredients from the supermarket and some weird Japanese Shakespeare movie, looking sheepish but strangely defiant. It had been a long time since he'd done that, too, and he looked puzzled when Jim restrained himself from grinning and just said "Kurosawa, huh? Better get cracking on the burritos, chief, I hear his stuff takes a whole afternoon to watch."

It did. They sat on the couch, eating their hot, fresh burritos, and after a while, Blair tentatively offered to comment on the film, and with a little subtle prodding he was soon swept into his old teacher mode, enthusiastically expounding the parallels between the main characters of King Lear and some historical Japanese figure, how the director drew on the culture to make the film especially appropriate and how, really, Jim had to admit that it was pretty damn cool that so many parallels could be drawn and magnified between something written by a playwright in Elizabethan England and a culture on the opposite side of the world which seemed so different. Jim let the flood of words wash over him, too relieved and happy to find it in any way boring.

By the time the credits ended it was about five o'clock, and they were sprawled all over the couch and each other. Jim felt more contented than he had in a long time, filled as he was with good, simple food, feeling the warmth of Sandburg's legs over his and their fingers touching over the back of the sofa, just so. The warm, grey light cast soft shadows; occasional snores rumbled up from Sandburg's end – he must have been more tired than he'd let on. Come to think of it, Jim was feeling pretty sleepy too, but the position Blair was in... well, he didn't want the kid dislocating something, did he?

Jim patted the closest knee. "Sandburg?" he called. "Chief, wake up. You gotta go to bed."

An eye cracked open and gazed wryly at him.

"Shut up," Jim said, smiling. "You know what I mean."

Blair opened his eyes fully, and yawned; it was a big yawn, accompanied by stretching and ending in a tiny, kitten-like squeak. It was not adorable. It was not adorable. Jim felt his mellow smile growing bigger.

Blair blinked, and shifted into a more sensible position. He looked at Jim, and then he looked at him, and Jim understood perfectly what he meant. He arranged himself, with little fuss, right next to Blair, holding his smaller roommate in a loose embrace. Thankfully, it was quite a wide couch.

Eventually, Blair spoke. He said, "I've wanted to be a cop for years."

Jim blinked. You think you know a guy, he thought.

"I know," Blair said, into his shoulder. "It was just... right around that invite to go to Borneo, and I... you know what I kept thinking? I thought, I can't do it, because I have way more important stuff to do at work. And I meant Major Crimes. Not 'I can't do this because I have to study Jim some more', or even, 'I can't do this because Jim needs help with his senses'. I needed to help you with your work. Even then, police work had become more important than anthropology. That's what I meant, when I said it was about friendship. This thing, with the press conference, and..." He stopped, breathing a little fast. Jim stroked his hair and wondered when either of them was going to stop feeling guilty for that. "Even then," Blair said, "You meant more to me than the dissertation. It's nothing new."

Jim didn't know what to say to that. He just wrapped his arms more tightly around Blair, and didn't interrupt.

"You know why I studied Sentinels, Jim? You know what really gripped me? No- one had really investigated the phenomenon. I mean, if there's a primitive tribe anywhere in the world you can bet someone will study them, probably lots of someones, but I felt like if I could just find a real Sentinel and prove they exist, I could actually do some good, really help people. I didn't want to be famous, Jim, I... I wanted to be useful, you have to believe me. And the more I helped you and tagged along, you know, I kept thinking: there's always going to be an anthropologist somewhere to investigate whatever tribe, there's always a little time, a little leeway. But man, there's never enough cops. That's really important, not in some abstract, people-must-know-this kind of way, but in a real, solid way, with people's lives at stake. I was never going to publish that dissertation. I was going to finish it, because I hate leaving things unfinished, but Jim, the number of times I just wanted to throw my damn laptop into the harbour..."

Jim's mouth was dry. He thought about that horrible, insane night he'd read the diss, those things he'd said to Blair, the look on Blair's face...

"I didn't know how I'd manage it," Blair said softly. "I'd just tell them that I'd been wrong, I guess, that I hadn't been able to collect enough data. Don't get me wrong, I love teaching, and I love to study people – and hey, I got my retirement job set right up, huh? They always need people at the academy!" (Jim had to smile at this) "— but there are other ways to do that, Jim, and other ways to use it. I'm good at reading people, talking to them, remembering details... and I just thought that those are skills that'd make me a good cop, you know?"

"You are," Jim said suddenly. "You are a really good cop, Sandburg, you're a natural. A real peace-keeper. Even Simon's said as much. Even before you went to the academy."

Blair smiled. Jim felt the sat tilt of the lips against his throat. "Really?"

"Don't go fishing for compliments there, junior," Jim said gruffly, but even he was aware of the tremble in his voice.

The smile became a grin. "Ahh, ya got me, man."

There was a long pause.

"I shot Heint. I killed him. With a gun. I used deadly force, like they trained me."

Jim waited, quivering, as Blair drew a deep breath.

"And it was the right thing to do."

Jim had never heard a more wonderful sentence in his life. He felt ever muscle in his body unclench, felt bits of him he hadn't even been aware of relax profoundly.

Blair propped himself up on Jim's chest, staring down at him with an expression of fierce determination and hard-won conviction. Jim smiled quietly back at him, lending courage. Blair continued in a near murmur, almost to himself, "Even if it hadn't been me, it would have ended the same way. I'm freaking, and I think I've got a right to freak, but it's not going to stop me doing my job. It's my job. I'll never use deadly force unless it's absolutely necessary; I know that. I'm not going to become some gun-happy automaton because of this. And Jim, let me tell you, even if I was still a ride-along I would have done it anyway. I just had to get him off you. I've never felt more angry before in my life, Jim." His lips trembled, and he lowered his head until his forehead was touching Jim's breastbone. "God, there was so much blood..." he whispered. "I didn't even know if you were still alive."

Jim pulled him into his arms again, stroking the soft hair, murmuring comforting things. Blair clung to him like a limpet and determinedly didn't cry. And then he did, though very quietly and with an almost un-Blair-like restraint. Jim supposed he thought he'd done enough crying already.

The rain had stopped while they were talking, and the sun had almost set.

Jim got up, and pulled Blair to his feet beside him. Wordlessly they walked up the stairs, Blair's heartbeat accelerated with nervousness like a virgin bride, and Jim in much the same condition. They lay down together under the covers, still in their sweats and t-shirts, but it wasn't awkward. There was one thing left that they had to do, one thing left unsaid that they needed to get out in the open, and both of them knew exactly what it was. And it was okay. It was all going to be okay.

They curled up together in the semi-dark, just holding each other. Blair nuzzled Jim's neck, sighing softly, and Jim twined his fingers through the thick, dark curls, allowing himself to regain the blissfulness he had slept in. Blair shifted his head back, just enough so they were nose to nose, eye to eye, and Blair just looked at him for the longest time, looked at him until he realized that Blair wasn't waiting for him to speak or make a move, he was just looking at him, and Jim was content to look back.

And they both thought, Blair would do anything for Jim, die for him, live for him, he'd even change his most fundamental nature to become perfect for Jim.

Except Jim didn't want Blair to be perfect. Blair had dreamed that, lying in Jim's arms while the storm raged outside. Jim wanted Blair to be Blair. There would be psychopaths and arguments and storms that lasted all day – this was okay. They decided it, right there and then, together. Without saying a word. There was an elephant in the kitchen. Hello, Jumbo. Stay as long as you like.

Eventually, Blair leaned forward and placed the softest, most tentative of kisses on Jim's lips, and just that was enough to shock him with its intense rightness. Jim, not often one to take the lead, kissed him back. He ducked his head, and nuzzled Blair. He traced the marvelous grin with the tips of his fingers, he sniffed the hair, he kissed the eyelids which were closed in eager joy, he breathed the breath that Blair exhaled and licked the smiling mouth. He felt worshipful.

They didn't stop for quite a while; Jim was determined to know every part of Blair, starting with this, so he found out that Blair loved to be kissed like this, licked here, that sucking this spot just under his jaw made him buck and writhe. Somewhere along the way they wormed their way out of their clothes, which now lay crumpled at the foot of the bed, or beside it, or on the stairs, depending on how hard they'd been flung. Lost in the cocoon of the sheets, the dark, the warmth and wonder, they learned every secret of each other's skin. Things snarled together in the darkness of the jungle floor; they snarled together. They named the unnamable thing in their exclusive language.

They lay then, panting softly, Jim propped up on his elbows over his quiescent partner. Lover. Oh, God. Blair stirred, and his eyes fluttered open. He looked dazed and blissed out, which made Jim feel quite proud.

Blair reached up and traced blind fingers over Jim's face, over his cheek and nose and eyes. "I love you," he said mournfully. "I'm going to be with you for the rest of my life."

"Sorry about that," Jim murmured, only slightly sarcastic.

Blair grinned, a big, goofy, genuine grin. Jim had missed it like a vital organ.

Blair wasn't perfect, and never would be; he would not try to be anymore, would not suffer nightmares from trying. The realisation made Jim so happy he could have zoned out on the thought alone, so he let his senses wander freely. Blair looked disheveled and lovely, gazing up at Jim with dark blue eyes; he smelled like soap, toothpaste, contentment and guacamole; he felt warm and alive in Jim's arms, and for once, for the first time in a long time, since he'd died, since he'd died and not-died, he thrummed with energy. It wasn't nervous tension, it was energy; it was vitality, vigour. For the first time since he'd died, he felt alive.

They got up at about six the next morning, just because.

Jim stood in front of the windows, watching the rain – it had started again around three – dialing down his hearing to normal so the thunder didn't deafen him. He stood there, in nothing but his skin, watching the world unfold, while Blair pottered around in the kitchen making tea.

It was an ugly thing outside, but he was so happy that all he could think about was things like how it would make the trees grow, how it would wash the streets clean (very temporarily), how it would make the sun even more welcome when it eventually emerged. Goofy shit, but true. It was ugly and it was beautiful; it was bad and it was good. It was the city they worked in and the work that they did. It was the world.

It was more than enough.