They Have a HOLIDAY For That?
Summary: Seems like, these days, there's a holiday for just about everything. Blair takes the celebration of one a little too much to heart.
Disclaimers: Own nothing, turn no profit, don't sue. Seriously, never heard the phrase "blood from a turnip"?
Timeline: Somewhere near the end of the first season. No spoilers.
Author's Note: Thanks to Kameka for both the idea and the beta. *hugs Kam*
They Have a HOLIDAY For That?
Having been brought up to respect and celebrate diversity, Sandburg had been known to observe some pretty weird holidays and, for the most part, Jim was fine with that. His tolerance started to wane when Blair greeted him first thing in the morning with a flying tackle/bear-hug and announced that today was National Hug Day.
That's right, ladies and gents, they actually have a holiday set aside for serial huggers. And Sandburg is an enthusiastic celebrant.
"You're going to hug everyone you see today?"
"Yeah." He did that twitchy head-bob of his, grinning like a manic puppy.
"Well, because hugging should be celebrated and encouraged. It's been scientifically shown to reduce stress and triggers the release of oxytocin, which promotes bonding. It's a common form of greeting in several countries."
"Yeah, and, in some countries, so is kissing other guys, but you won't catch me doing that, either."
"Are you sure you don't want to give it a try? You might actually enjoy it."
"Way too touchy-feely for my taste, Chief."
Sandburg looked a little disappointed but quickly shrugged it off. "Your loss. But it really is pretty great. I actually helped organize a student group that promotes non-sexual hugging."
Jim stared at him. "Is it even possible for you to hug a girl and have it not be sexual?"
"Takes a little work," Blair admitted, shrugging. "But it's worth the effort. Hugging is really very healthy physically and socially."
"Whatever. Go get ready for work."
"Okay." Blair caught him in another tackle/hug. "See you in a few minutes, Jim."
"It's going to be a long day," Jim sighed, heading upstairs to get dressed.
The drive to work was uneventful enough that Jim had time to pretty much forget his strange friend's latest antics. It helped that they arrived early enough to walk down the station's hallway without encountering anyone.
Then they entered the bull-pen.
"Rafe!" Sandburg greeted the Detective, hurrying over to the coffee machine and pulling Rafe into an enthusiastic hug. Not quite the flying tackle Jim had suffered, but still a bear-hug.
When Sandburg released him, Rafe stood there looking more than a little shocked.
"Uh, what was that, Blair?"
"It's National Hug Day and, in that spirit, every time I greet or say goodbye to someone, I'm giving them a hug," Blair answered cheerfully.
Jim groaned. He had thought the enthused greetings were bad. He hadn't even considered the embarrassment factor.
"Heh, that's… interesting," Rafe said, looking bemused. "I guess. Uh, why, though?"
"Well, see, physical contact releases hormones which reduce stress and promote bonding. So it has definite benefits beyond the emotional. So National Hug Day was designed to encourage more frequent social hugging."
"Really? Hugging does those things?"
"Yup." Blair nodded like a bobble-head.
Rafe gave a wry smile. "That's actually kind of cool."
"Yeah, isn't it?" Blair asked, giving him another hug, and receiving a hug in return. "See you later, Rafe." He let go and walked to his desk.
"I am so sorry," Jim whispered. "If I'd known he was going to take it this far, I would have handcuffed him to the water-heater or something."
"It's okay." Rafe shook his head. "Like I said, it's actually kind of cool when you think about it."
Jim closed his eyes. God, people were actually willing to drink the Kool-Aid on this? Grown men? Insane…
The morning progressed and Blair greeted every single person who walked into the bull-pen in the same enthusiastic manner. Some people gave him shit for it, but most actually seemed a little interested in what he had to say. Beyond insane.
Then, it happened. The unthinkable.
"Ellison! Sandburg! Get in here!" Simon barked from his office.
Blair stopped outside the office long enough to give Rhonda another hug, then started towards Simon's office.
"Don't do it, Blair," Jim pled. "Really, just don't."
"Why not?" Blair asked innocently. Then he darted into the office.
"What the hell?" Simon bellowed. "Sandburg, get off me!"
Sighing and shaking his head, Jim walked into the office. Simon was still in his chair and Blair had him in a clinch from behind as he babbled on about National Hug Day.
"Get off!" Simon hissed.
"Simon, why the hostility towards physical contact? Humans are genetically keyed to require physical contact with other humans. It promotes bonding."
"And I am not interesting in bonding with you," Simon growled, prying Blair's fingers free. "So get off."
Blair straightened and stood looking down at Simon with his professor face on. Jim sighed and closed his eyes.
"I don't think that's a very healthy attitude, Simon. Hugging is scientifically proven to reduce stress, you know. You could stand to be hugged more often."
Jim stared at Blair with his mouth hanging open. Oh. My. God.
"Sandburg," he warned.
"If you don't stop hugging Simon and talking to him about hugging, he may decide to shoot you. Now lay off."
"That's not a healthy attitude for either of you. Seriously, you're taking years off your own lives and making them a little less pleasant at the same time."
"Lay off!" Jim growled.
He could hear Rhonda on the phone outside, whispering and giggling. He dialed his sense of hearing back to normal and focused on giving Blair a quelling look instead.
Then what Rhonda had said really filtered in. "No, he's hugging absolutely everyone."
"I mean it, Blair. You need to just tone it down a little bit."
Blair looked a little hurt, but he shrugged. "Fine, I won't hug Simon any more. Can I still hug you?"
Jim sighed, not in the mood to argue. It was only one day, after all. "Whatever."
And he launched another flying tackle at Jim.
"You said for saying 'hello' and 'goodbye' only," Jim growled, prying him off.
"Oh, right, sorry. I just got a little enthusiastic there. I just love this holiday!"
"Sit down, Sandburg," Simon sighed. "I've got work for the two of you."
By the time they got out of Simon's office, Rhonda's call had garnered results. A line of women, and one or two men, had formed by Blair's desk.
"Best holiday ever!" Blair enthused before racing over to get down to business.
Jim shook his head, wondering what it was about Blair that made people willing to get manhandled by him, even going so far as to volunteer for it. Blair was a great guy and everything, but very strange, too.
After explaining the holiday to everyone and enjoining them all to start celebrating themselves, Blair got down to the business of hugging his new friends. To Jim's disgust, he also got several phone-numbers.
"Don't know what you're missing, Jim," Blair told him once the crowd had cleared.
"Hyperactive senses here, Chief. You really think I want to be that close to complete strangers?"
"Good point. I'm not over-stimulating you, am I?"
He could have lied and the hugging would have stopped, but he really didn't like to burst Blair's balloon when he got that excited. He was a really great guy, after all.
"Just, a little warning from now on, okay? My first instinct when you came at me this morning was to break your neck."
"Sorry about that. Won't happen again," Blair promised, then settled down to work.
Within a few hours, people were randomly hugging each other in the hallways. Jim's disgust with the holiday increased. It was a police station, for God's sake! He wanted to shout the fact at the top of his lungs every time he saw anyone doing it.
Blair eventually left for a few hours at the University, a class he had to teach and, of course, to check on the progress of the little love-in he had helped organize.
Jim heard him in the hallway and turned around at his desk to watch him hug his way through the bull-pen, stopping once to rub his shoulder before wading back into the fray.
"I'm going to hug you now, Jim, okay?" he greeted him when he reached their desk.
"Just get it over with."
"Aw, you know you love it on the inside," Blair answered cheerfully, leaning over to hug Jim where he sat in his chair. He immediately became fascinated with the crime-scene photos on Jim's computer-screen. "Cool."
"Uh, Chief, were you planning on letting go of me any time this week?"
"Oh, sorry." Blair straightened again. "So, I miss anything?"
"We're interviewing a suspect in a little bit here."
"Sweet. That's always interesting." He grinned and dropped into his chair.
"How was class?" Jim asked absently.
"Great. Did my lecture on human bonding, because that just seemed appropriate. Must have gotten close to fifty hugs from my students and it's breaking out all over campus, people just hugging each other left and right. It's amazing!"
Jim shook his head over Blair's enthusiasm. Then a thought hit him.
"Are you even allowed to hug your students? Don't most schools have rules against that kind of thing?"
"Oh, yeah." Blair nodded, his expression serious. "But most rules specify fraternization and harassment rather than public displays of affection in general. So all you have to do is say 'I'm going to give you a friendly hug now if that's okay with you' and you're still within the rules."
Jim narrowed his eyes. "You got lawyer blood in you I don't know about?"
Blair shook his head, expression still perfectly serious. "Those rules exist to protect students, not restrict friendly exchanges of any sort. In fact, in my department at least, professors are strongly encouraged to get to know their students outside of class, at club meetings and events and things. And there is no better way of bonding than a nice hug."
"So you keep saying," Jim answered, returning his attention to the photos he was looking on.
"Uh, where's the file on this suspect we're supposed to be talking to?" Blair asked.
Jim located it and passed it to Blair. "Accessory after the fact to murder. Boyfriend did it. She's got no previous record. Pretty sure we'll be able to get her to turn State's Evidence."
"Well, that's good and if she's never been in trouble before…"
"Pretty much my thinking," Jim agreed. "But we think she's got the dirt to put that bastard away for a long time."
"Fewer criminals on the street is always a good thing," Blair agreed, immersing himself in the file.
Walking down to the interrogation room took a lot longer than usual because Blair insisted on stopping and hugging everyone he normally would have just said 'hi' to. It annoyed Jim more because other people were doing it, too. Police station, people!
And then they entered the interrogation room and the first thing the long-haired hippie freak did was to walk over to the suspect and give her a hug!
"Hi, Blair Sandburg."
She stared up at him with wide eyes.
"Chief!" Jim protested, grabbing him by the arm and pulling him around to the other side of the table. "I don't care if it is National Hug Day, you cannot go around hugging suspects!"
Blair had the grace to look embarrassed and apologetic. "Sorry. Gets kind of habitual after the first few hours." Turning to the suspect, he added, "Sorry, ma'am."
She nodded slowly, eyes still wide. "You some kind of social worker or something?"
"Uh… what are you even doing here, then?"
"I'm studying the Thin Blue Line."
"The Blue Wall of Silence. The tendency of cops not to report the misconduct of other cops. You get it in any sodality, but it's never really been studied in particularly great depth by an anthropologist."
"Please don't get him started or he'll be spouting off useless information all afternoon," Jim told her.
She nodded hesitantly. "I'm sorry. So, I uh… I guess you have some questions for me?"
The interrogation went quite well. The girl was cooperative, ready to tell everything, and apparently had onnly avoided coming to the police before out of fear. While nervous, she was friendly and polite, and emphatic in her statements. There would be no shaking her on the stand. She'd make a good witness.
At the end of the interview Blair, of course, gave her another hug. She accepted it with slightly better grace this time, but still looked bemused.
"You are unbelievable," Jim muttered when they were outside of the interrogation room again. "She was a suspect!"
"She was a scared kid, Jim."
He shook his head in disgust. "No, this is not just about social bonding, or you wouldn't be hugging witnesses. I'm starting to think you're just an enormous man-slut or something."
Blair sniggered and made no attempt to refute the charge. Then he stopped to hug Officer Simons who was on his way to process the suspect.
Simons looked appalled and more than a little angry.
"It's National Hug Day," Jim explained, quickly grabbing Blair by the arm and getting him out of there before things could turn violent.
"You do realize that Simons is a complete homophobe?" Jim hissed as he half-pulled Blair down the hall.
"So? There was nothing sexual about what I did."
Jim stopped to stare at him. The younger man looked honestly confused as to what the problem was.
Jim shook his head. "I give up."
"Jim, what did I do?"
"How can you not get it?" he demanded, frustrated. "How warped was your upbringing."
Now Blair just looked offended. "My upbringing happened to be very warm and educational. Why shouldn't public displays of affection be more common? There's nothing wrong with expression your affection to another person!"
"Okay, that's fine in theory, but homophobes aren't like the rest of us. You hug one without permission and you absolutely are putting yourself in harm's way. Okay, so you need a list of the other cops you need to waive your little 'hug everyone for a day' rule?"
Blair shook his head. "I think know who they are. Trust me, I've been called fairy, fag, and worse by several members of the force."
"What?" Jim demanded, outraged. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Mostly because I didn't want you to go all Blessed Protector on me with your fellow-cops. It's not like it's a big deal. It doesn't bother me."
"How can being called that not bother you?"
Blair frowned. "Why should ignorant people bother me? It's not who I am, so what's it matter what title they apply? And, if I were gay, I wouldn't be so ashamed of it that I let a little petty name-calling get to me."
Jim stared at him, wondering if it was actually possible for a human being to be that comfortable in his own skin.
"You okay, Jim?" Blair asked. "You look like you're thinking some deep thoughts."
Jim shook himself. "Nothing. But I absolutely will be having words with a few of those officers."
"Drop it, Jim. It's no big deal," Blair assured him.
"Hey, Blair!" a young beat-officer greeted him, walking over and pulling the smaller man into a hug.
Blair laughed and hugged him back. "Good to see you, too, Daniels. Enjoying your National Hug Day?"
"Well, it's different, that's for sure," he laughed, releasing Blair. "I told my wife about it, and she thinks it's great. Went over to visit all the neighbors. Even hugged the mail-man. Wonder if I should be worried about that last one?" he joked. "Well, see you two later."
Jim stared after him, shaking his head. "What is it about you, Sandburg, that you can completely disrupt the routine of an entire police station by your mere presence?"
"Sometimes, shaking things up a little can be a good thing," Blair answered, smacking him on the arm and starting down the hall again.
Jim shook his head and followed. He eventually got tired of stopping every time Blair did, so he went up to the bullpen alone. Three people tried to hug him on his way there, but backed off when they saw the look on his face. Then, when he got to what was supposed to be his sanctuary, Henri ambushed him with a one-armed hug as he passed.
Gritting his teeth, he headed straight for Simon's office. "There have to be rules against this kind of thing."
Simon grimaced and shook his head. "You think I didn't check after Blair groped me this morning? We are, apparently, the only precinct in the country that's never needed a PDA rule." He shook his head again. "All it would have taken was one little affair between partners, but no… And I can't enforce a rule that's not on the books. This is ridiculous but there's not a thing I can do about it."
"Hey, at least you get off in a few hours. Me, I've got to go home with the man."
"You have my sympathies." Simon shook his head. "I don't see why you put up with him."
"Because I need him," Jim answered. But the truth was that he kind of liked having Blair around, crazy ways and all. "Besides, studies say that people with pets live longer and sharing an apartment with Blair is the rough equivalent of owning a hyperactive terrier."
Simon snorted at that assessment.
Blair's heartbeat reached his ear, slightly irregular. Frowning, he excused himself and left the office. "Blair, is everything all right?" he called across the bullpen.
Definitely not. He was holding his arm like it was in a lot of pain. Jim shook his head. Only Sandburg.
"Did you just do what I think you did?"
"Gave myself a repetitive-motion injury hugging people? Yeah," Blair sighed.
"Here, let's get you in the bathroom. I'll have a look at it."
Blair shook his head. "Won't be able to get my shirt off. I already tried. It's not that it hurts too bad. I just don't think it'll move that far."
"Yeah, that sounds like you might have torn your rotator cuff. Go wait in the truck. I'll tell Simon I'm bringing you to the ER and meet you there. Just try to keep it as stationary as possible. And no hugging!"
"But I've still got one good arm," Blair protested.
Jim shook his head and went to tell Simon. Who found the whole thing quite amusing. Jim was able to put aside enough of his concern for his partner to see the humor of the situation. And, it went without saying, he was never going to let Blair live this down.
With Blair's right arm out of commission, Jim was left to fill out the paperwork in the ER. He should have known better than to let Blair sit next to anyone else.
"Hurt your arm?" the man in the chair next to him asked conversationally.
"Yeah, my partner thinks it's my rotator cuff. Blair Sandburg." And he gave the man a one-armed hug.
The man pushed Blair off with enough force to garner a pained cry from the young anthropologist. Jim jumped to his feet, slamming down the clipboard and staring the man down with his best 'I know thirty-seven ways to kill a man with my thumb and index-finger' glare.
"Watch it," he growled.
The man looked like he wanted to argue, but he also obviously loved his life. He went away muttering under his breath about how perverted and slutty homosexuals could be. The hospital security guard, a man Jim knew in passing from other occasions when Blair had required emergency care, watched him go with a frown, then glanced questioningly at Jim.
Jim shook his head and made a hand-gesture that the exchange had been no big deal. The guard shrugged and went back to perusing his magazine.
"Blair, people you know, okay, whatever. But complete strangers? Is that really necessary?"
"It's in the spirit of the day."
Jim shook his head and went back to filling out the paperwork. Torn rotator cuffs were not exactly high-priority, so the wait was a long one. Fortunately, no one else tried to strike up a conversation with Blair.
Finally, they were called back.
"Oh, hello again, Blair," Kelley, the nurse leading them back, greeted him.
"Hey, Kells," Blair answered, giving her a one-armed hug.
She smiled. "What was that for?"
"It's National Hug Day," he explained. And went on to explain about all the health and social benefits of regular hugging. Jim could have repeated the speech for him by this point.
"And you… did something to your arm?" she asked, looking at the chart.
"Torn rotator cuff, I think," Jim told her.
"Oh, how terrible! Were you grappling with a suspect?"
Blair cleared his throat, coloring slightly. "Did I mention that this is National Hug Day?"
Author's Note: National Hug Day is an actual holiday celebrated on the 21st of January every year, and everything Blair said about the physical, emotional, and social benefits of hugging is born out by research. So, you know, next time you're saying "hi" to a friend, consider doing it with a friendly hug instead of a handshake. It's good for you AND the relationship.