Necessities Of Loving

Lyrics are borrowed from Ty Herndon's I Need To Be Loved Too Much

"Jim?" Blair asked, looking up from his laptop.

"Yeah, Chief?" Jim cast his partner a questioning look. The Jags were losing and it was only the first quarter, so a little conversation would be a good distraction.

Blair took a deep breath and then started talking really fast. "Some friends of mine and I were having this conversation today about the ambiguousness of words. A lot of people say they need things, when what they mean is they want things. The definition of 'need' is actually closer 'necessitate,' like in Maslow's hierarchy of needs. If you need something, it is a necessity. Like air to breath, water to drink, food to eat, shelter to live in. Clothes to wear are sort of a need because when it's cold you need something to keep your from freezing, and when it's hot you need something to keep you from burning, but a lot of people say they 'need' their cars, their computers…their spouses." Here a sort of shy look crossed his face. "We all agreed to try and think of things which could fall in either the 'need' or 'want' category in our lives, and I was wondering what you considered a 'need.'" His breath let out in a whoosh at having finally gotten the question out.

Nonplussed at Blair's fast talking, Jim took a moment to review what was being asked of him. He wants to know what I considered necessities, and what I just want to have? Sounds easy enough. "Well, I think those five things you first named are needs for me too – the Army might've gotten rid of my body-shyness, but I still wouldn't be comfortable going around naked." He quirked a grin.

Blair grinned back, inwardly seething. You don't seem to have a problem parading around the loft in nothing but a pair of skin-tight silk boxers. You drive me crazy with those things.

Jim continued, "I would have to say my job…well, not my job, but some type of work where I could feel useful, like I'm making a difference, is important enough to me to consider it a necessity." He grew thoughtful. "When you met me, I didn't have many close friends – actually, I don't think I had any really close friends. There was Carolyn, but we got married after seeing each other for six months – I knew most of my friends better than I knew her. I thought I was okay with that, but since you showed up I've grown closer to my colleagues, and Steven and I are working on our relationship…so I think that close friends and family is also a necessity for me."

Blair nodded. "You and Naomi are really important to me. I…I consider you both necessities. And it's not my job, but learning new things – that's what really drove me to become an anthropologist, learning. When you go to another country to study the natives, you learn so much about their culture. The destination isn't as important to me as the journey." He was quiet for a moment, contemplating their exchange so far. "Is there anything else you consider a necessity?"

Jim tried to gather the courage to answer. Why not? It's not like he'll understand it completely. Steeling himself, he said, "You."

Blair started. "Me?"

Jim nodded. "Without you, I would've gone insane. When you came into that hospital room, I thought I was going crazy. There was nothing the doctors could give me to help; they couldn't find anything wrong. When you told me about the Sentinel stuff, it was like a light at the end of the tunnel – I finally had hope. I can't handle these senses without you, Chief…and I don't really want to either. I need you, my Guide, in my life." I need the man I love, he added silently before he went quiet, almost as if that short, heart-felt speech had taken a lot out of him.

Blair blinked back his tears, moved by his friend's simple words. Clearing his throat, he said, "I, ah, I need you, too, man. Not just as a friend, or my Sentinel, but…as family." That was close to saying 'I love you' as he was prepared to get.

Jim's own eyes were misting over; he was grateful for the low lighting. Thankfully, what could potentially become an awkward moment was ended when the phone.

Picking up the receiver, Jim said, "Ellison." After a few minutes of listening and 'Uh-huh'ing, he hung up and turned to his partner. "That was Simon. We've got a body down at Elston and Fifth. You coming?"

Blair nodded. "Let's roll."

Their conversation haunted Blair for almost three weeks. He had the feeling that Jim meant more than what was said on the surface. He'd occasionally caught Jim appraising him from the corner of his eye, and at the time had put it down to Jim's 'Blessed Protector' instincts, but now he wasn't so sure.

Maybe he has feelings for me? he pondered one afternoon during his office hours. Feelings beyond friendship. I know I love him – and that realization almost gave me a coronary – but does he love me…or just want me?

His contemplation was interrupted by the object of his thoughts – and affections –knocking on his door.

"Hey, Chief."

Blair smiled. "Hey, Big Guy. What's up?"

"I need your help on a case, and I was hoping I could take you out to lunch and go over the specifics with you."

Blair's brow furrowed. "It's not a murder, is it?" Thinking about death during a meal was not conducive to his appetite.

Jim shook his head. "No, it's an odd burglary."

Glancing at the clock, Blair saw that his office hours would be over in less than five minutes – he could cut out early. Grabbing he jacket and backpack, he gestured Jim to lead the way. "Sure, tell me about it on the way, man."

As Blair climbed up the stairs to the loft, he pondered what he'd observed during lunch. Jim had taken him to one of his favorite restaurants, and instead of splitting the bill like they normally did, he offered to pay. Which was nice, as he was short on cash most of the time, but it wasn't normally something one guy did for another.

But it is something he does for the people he's attracted to, a little voice said, and Blair remembered how Jim was almost always the one to pay on all of his previous dates with women.

But that's just it. Women. He's straight.

As far as you know, the little voice pointed out. As far as he knows, you're straight, too.

Blair sighed as he pulled his keys out to unlock the door. This circular thinking was getting him nowhere and he was tired. He'd stayed up late the night before grading tests, and a little nap before dinner was just what he needed.

As he walked into his room and started removing his clothes in preparation for bed, he only hoped that sleeping on his problem would make things cleared when he woke up.

Upon awakening his problems still seemed as overwhelming as ever. He wanted Jim, was almost positive he loved Jim. Jim seemed be expressing more than simple friendly feelings for him – but it could just be the other man's usual kind nature. And he didn't know how to tell the difference.

Especially when he might be seeing things that weren't there, just because he wanted Jim to return his feelings.

But if Jim was flirting with him, then the least he could do was flirt back – subtly, just in case he had been wrong about Jim's intentions.

Plan made, he gave his reflection a decisive nod and finished tying back his hair. Exiting the bathroom, he grabbed his backpack and headed out to his car.

Another three weeks later, his plan seemed to be working – or at least not bombing out disastrously. Jim had been 'flirting' with him more and more often as Blair 'flirted' back. Blair also noticed that, although Jim had always touched him – he was a very tactile person – the touches had increased in frequency almost exponentially.

They seemed to be spending more time together, as well. They'd been eating lunch together on a more regular basis, spending their evenings together, and Blair had noticed that Jim didn't seem to even be trying to date.

Or, at least, he wasn't 'dating' anyone besides Blair.

These were the thoughts running through Blair's mind when he and Jim were sitting down to eat Chinese. They'd just gotten their menus when Jim heard something at the edge of his senses.

Then all hell broke loose.

"What the hell happened?" Simon asked as he approached his detective.

Jim sighed, slumping back in the plastic waiting room chair. Gesturing for his captain to take a seat, he said, "Blair and I were at a table, trying to decide what to order for lunch while we waited for you. I heard someone arguing in the kitchen, it was in Chinese at first, so I didn't understand what was happening. Then four men with automatic rifles burst in, and the people in the kitchen started arguing in English. Seems the younger son of a Tong family was working his way through medical school as a dishwasher. He didn't want to join the mafia and had left his family. Some lackey of his father's came with the four stooges to 'convince' him to come back. When he couldn't get the son to leave with him, the lackey ordered the stooges to shoot up the restaurant, thinking that once the kid was associated with the Tong – whether he was a member or not – he would have no choice but to join the organization, where they could help keep him out of jail."

Simon harrumphed. That was the stupidest thing he'd heard in days, and he said so.

Jim nodded tiredly, a small smile lurking at the corners of his mouth. "Yeah, I thought so too. But what can you do? Anyway, I pulled Blair under the table, but a stray bullet clipped the side of his head. His vitals sounded good, but he was unconscious, so I'm not sure…"

At that moment, a blond woman in blue scrubs came out. "Jim Ellison?" she asked, after taking a quick look at the paperwork in her hands.

Jim was up and across the room almost before she'd finished saying his name. "That's me."

Smiling reassuringly at the taller man, she said, "My name is Dr. Matheson. Your partner is going to be fine; he doesn't even have a concussion."

"Thank God," Simon mumbled under his breath. Ellison was a great detective, but he was a real bear whenever something happened to the kid.

Unknowingly, Jim echoed his friend's words. "Thank God." Turning to the doctor, he asked, "When can I see him?"

"He's in Curtain 3; we're not keeping him overnight since he's not in any danger," Matheson told him, leading them both down the hall, presumably to where Blair was. "You can take him home as soon as he wakes up and someone clears him for release." She stopped in front of a bed half-hidden by a white curtain, and pulled it back to reveal Blair. "Just press the button for assistance," she told him before striding off.

Peeking inside the curtained enclosure, Simon said, "He looks okay."

Jim, however, wanted more up close and personal reassurance. Taking the few steps necessary to stand beside the bed, he picked up Blair's hand to hold in his own. He then carefully trained his senses on Blair, using the pulse in his wrist as a focus. After a long moment, he breathed a sigh of relief, and turned to Simon, saying, "Yeah, he's gonna be just fine."

Giving a decisive nod, Simon said, "Well, I have to be getting back to the station. Try and come in tomorrow to fill in a report, all right?" Receiving a nod in response to his question, he sauntered off, leaving the two partners alone in relative privacy.

Seeing that he was alone with his partner, Jim hooked a nearby chair with his foot and ragged it over. He sat down and scooted up close to the bed, all the while never letting go of Blair's hand.

One hour ticked by, then two. Finally the sedative Blair had been given wore off, and his eyelids fluttered open. The first thing he saw was Jim…holding his hand.

"Hey, Big Guy," he croaked out. He cleared his throat, and asked, voice almost normal, "What happened?"

"A bullet clipped your head," Jim said succinctly.

"Oh, yeah, now I remember…" Blair groaned as he sat up with Jim's help. "Was anyone else hurt?" he asked belatedly.

"I don't think so, but once you were down I pretty much stopped paying attention," Jim admitted.

Blair nodded, taking his Sentinel's over-protectiveness as a matter of course. It was only when he went to feel the bandage on the side of his head that he realized Jim was still holding his hand.

Flustered, Jim quickly let go of his partner's hand. "Ah, I'd bet you'd like to get out of here, huh, Chief?" he asked, obviously hoping Blair wouldn't make a big deal about the hand-holding.

Happy to oblige his friend, Blair said, "Oh, yeah. Definitely."

Jim nodded. "I'll go get you signed out and then we can go home, all right?"

"Cool, man," Blair said. "Can't wait to get home; I need to get some real sleep in a real bed. These hospital ones are impossible to get comfortable in."

"I hear you, buddy," Jim replied, adding under his breath, "God, I wish that wasn't all you needed."

Jim had turned to slip through the curtain, so he didn't see Blair's head shoot up at the sound of the murmured words.

"What…?" Blair asked himself. What could Jim have meant by that?

Pondering his friend's words, he set about removing the IV and putting his clothes back on.

The sound of country music broke him out of his musings. It was like an omen, the words which spilled forth out of the PA system.

I need to be loved too much.
I need to be held too tight.
I need to hear someone say at the end of the day 'I'll make everything right.'
When the rest of the world goes home, I need to feel someone's touch.
I've been alone too long, now I need to be loved too much.

"That's definitely what I need...from Jim," Blair murmured. "But how can I tell him that?"

"You just did, Chief."

Blair whirled around, and only barely managed to halt his fall by grabbing onto the bed. It seemed he hadn't quite shaken off his vertigo.

His eyes went wide as he saw Jim standing there between the open curtains.

"H-how much…" Blair croaked out.

"How much did I hear?" Jim guessed correctly. His face softened into a smile. "All of it."

"I…and you…" Blair stuttered.

"I feel the same, Chief," Jim agreed.

"You do?" Blair asked with relief.

A slow grin spread across Jim's face like the rising sun dawning on a new day. "Yeah, I do," he said softly. "You're one of my necessities, Chief; remember?"

"Yeah," Blair replied. "You're, uh…one of mine, too, Big Guy."

Jim nodded; he'd already guessed that much. "I don't just need you – or even want you, you know. I love you, Blair," he said solemnly, coming over to stand beside the other man.

Looking up into those blue eyes, Blair could barely think. "I love you, too, man."

Jim smiled that sweet, sunrise smile again, and said, "Good." Leaning down, he pressed his lips firmly, yet gently to Blair's.

And though he could think again, it was only one thought: I'm not alone anymore – and Jim will definitely love me too much.

Not that it's really possible to love someone too much.