And On The Eighth Day...
by HYPERFocused

On Tuesday, Blair came home to find a small bag from Cascade Men's Wear sitting on the kitchen table next to his Boca Burger. There were a dozen pairs of winter weight socks in it, and a note that said, "It gets drafty in the truck, Chief. I figured these would help."

Blair didn't think much of it, beyond noting it as another sign of Jim's inherent thoughtfulness, and watchfulness toward his Guide. Jim had a little bit of Mother Hen in him, even if he would deny it with his last breath.

Wednesday morning, Blair found his car, which had been coasting on fumes for the past few days, filled up. There was also a big cup of flavored coffee from the only real organic place in Cascade. "Fuel for the driver, fuel for the car" was Jim's note this time.

Blair sipped happily, and wondered what had put his partner into such a giving mood. He wasn't going to complain. He made a mental note to be especially solicitous in return, and hold back on the testing he'd been itching to start. He also made sure to do all the dishes, and move his crap out of the living room the way Jim had been asking him to do for weeks.

Thursday evening he walked in from a long day of stakeout, chase, arrest (and the resultant paperwork he'd gotten stuck doing) to find the loft toasty warm, and Jim waiting with cocoa and peppermint schnapps.

"I picked up that movie you liked," Jim said. 'You know, the black and white one with that weird math mumbo jumbo."

"That you slept right through?" Blair teased, and said, "Jim, that's so cool! Thanks, man." He was surprised. Jim had fallen asleep fifteen minutes into "Pi," when Blair had dragged him to the film at its one week run in Cascade.

And even Blair had to admit he had missed some of the movie, finding the planes and angles of Jim's jaw line more compelling than the mathematical formulas of the film. Certainly the whole Sentinel/Guide thing was as mystical as the Kaballah.. More than slightly bemused, he settled in next to Jim on the couch to watch the movie. Whatever was going on with Jim, he wasn't about to spoil things with an ill-advised inquiry. Better to just sit back and see what happened.

Friday morning, when Blair dressed he noticed his usually jumbled underwear drawer was perfectly organized, and there were 3 new multi-packs of his favorite boxers, as well as a pair of navy blue silk boxer briefs with a note attached, "Try them."

He did. They felt wonderful. But the idea that Jim had been that interested in him and his underwear meant an extra half hour in the bathroom when Jim had the white noise generator on.

Not that Jim couldn't tell he'd been jerking off, but Blair knew he wouldn't say anything. He never did. Occasionally a raised eyebrow when Blair spent a little too long in the bathroom, but that was it. Sometimes Blair wanted Jim to notice more than he did.

When he woke up late Saturday morning, wondering why Jim hadn't yelled for him to "get up and get moving, Chief" he was surprised to see Jim with a "kiss the cook" apron wrapped around his bare chest, and a huge plate of his favorite Chocolate Chip pancakes at his place. Sitting next to the pancakes was a small package with a pair of brown leather driving gloves. The note attached said, "Warm hands, warm heart."

"I read somewhere that it was traditional to eat pancakes for Hanukkah, and I remembered you had these when you were a boy," Jim said.

Blair held back his laughter - really, it was one of the nicest things Jim had ever done for him - and said, "Potato pancakes, Big Guy. But these are great. Thanks!"

He'd told Jim once how Naomi had taken him to this great little diner on his birthday --- one of the few she'd remembered - and they'd both ordered chocolate pancakes. It was one of his best memories. Naomi had taken him to the toy store after, and let him shop his little heart out.

This was definitely surpassing that memory.

"I thought we'd hit the mall after breakfast, Chief," Jim told him. Blair gaped. Jim hated malls. The holiday hustle and bustle would just make things worse.

"Are you sure, man? It'll be pretty loud and smelly. It's Saturday."

"It's also less than a week 'til Christmas, and I'm feeling generous. I'll bring my earplugs. Besides, you'll be there." Jim smiled at Blair like his presence really meant something.

"Well, sure. And I could stand to pick up some gifts." Blair had a few things purchased for Jim's Christmas already, but as long as they were where all the shops were, he might find a few more. Jim had been especially great lately, and Blair wanted to return the favor by giving him a really special holiday.

They'd braved the parking lots and the screaming kids in line for Santa. Jim had made the wise suggestion that they separate for an hour or two to make purchases they didn't want the other to see.

"Surprises! That's so cool, Jim. I can't wait. Man, you are so in the holiday spirit." Blair practically bounced.

"You don't know the half of it," Jim muttered under his breath. Blair didn't quite know what he meant by that, but he didn't think too hard about it. There were carols playing over the loudspeakers, and he had a long list of stuff to get. He loved the holidays.

Sunday afternoon was Jim's father's annual holiday party. Blair expected to have the time free to catch up on reading, and maybe work on that new book proposal. Instead, Jim came home after his morning run and said "get dressed, the party's in an hour and a half."

"I didn't think I was invited."

"You're my partner. Of course I want you there," Jim told him, looking puzzled, as if it was a foregone conclusion.

"Wow, I'm touched." Blair couldn't help beaming at him. The party would probably be awkward (he was never sure of his welcome after the whole diss disaster), but he was looking forward to seeing Jim in his suit. Oh shit. Now he remembered the other problem.

"Jim, come to think of it, I don't think I can go after all." Blair said apologetically.

"You've got other plans? I don't remember you telling me about them. Damn." Jim sounded disappointed. "I was really looking forward to bringing you home."

"It's not that. It's just this was such short notice, and I don't really have anything suitable to wear. I don't imagine flannel fits the dress code for this."

Blair had heard about these parties. He would be expected to be in full dress. God knows he didn't need another reason for William Ellison to think he was a "hippie freak."

"Oh, is that all?" Jim looked like the cat that got the canary. "Hold on a minute. Wait right there." He ran up the stairs to his bedroom, and came back down with a large bag marked "Weinberg Bros. Classics since 1884." Blair had never even been in the fine clothing store. He was sure he couldn't afford to buy a handkerchief there..

When Jim just handed him the bag, and said "Happy holidays, Chief. Now that you're official, I thought you could use this," he didn't know what to say. He pulled out the dark blue suit and gray button down shirt, and held it up to him. It was gorgeous, and he didn't even want to think about what it had cost Jim. He had no doubts it would fit perfectly.

"It's your color, Blair. And now there's no excuse for missing the next Police Charity ball."

"God, Jim. This must have cost a week's pay. I don't know what to say." Blair gingerly unfolded the tissue paper wrapped fabric. "It's perfect." He reached up to hug Jim, and then held back a little. He didn't want to make him uncomfortable. Jim was a touchy feely sort of guy, but even he had limits.

Or maybe not. Jim hugged back, holding on tighter than he'd ever done when Blair wasn't just out of mortal danger. "Merry Christmas, Blair. Glad you like it. I just -I just thought you deserved something nice, after everything you've been through."

"We've been through. Besides, I've got 'something nice' every time I come home."

Jim smiled, punching Blair on the arm. "Get dressed."

The party turned out to be just as dull as he'd expected. He made small talk with the society matrons, discussed politics (without letting the conversation turn into arguments) with their husbands, and all the while watched Jim work the room.

He was wonderful. Charmed the ladies, but didn't spend much time with any one of them. Had something interesting to say to each of his father's old cronies. Blair thought it was an anthropological marvel in and of itself. There was probably a paper in it somewhere. "Making the Rounds:Holiday Parties as a Representation of Present Day Western Culture."

Blair couldn't help thinking 'and he goes home with me,' even if the basis for that proprietary claim was imagination rather than fact, as he saw multiple heads turn and follow his partner's fine form. He knew he wasn't the only one noticing Jim's strong shoulders and narrow waist. And he knew also that Jim was just as appealing on the inside. Blair just wished Jim knew how he really felt about him.

When he thought about it later, he realized Jim had spent more time with him than with anyone else, including his father. He appeared so often at Blair's side-- offering something new for him to try, or with a comment about one of the other guests, that finally Blair had to tell him to go mingle, "before people get ideas."

"Would that be so bad, Chief?" was Jim's unexpected response, as he walked off again.

Monday came, and with it work. Around 3:00, Simon called them into his office and said, "All right, your vacations have been approved. You've got a week, starting January Tenth."

Blair hadn't asked for any time off, but he wasn't going to say anything. Obviously Jim had some sort of plans for them. He could see Jim giving Simon the universal 'you blew my big secret' motion, finger swiping across his lips.

"Oops. Sorry, Jim," Simon said. "I forgot the kid didn't know."

"Know what?" Blair asked,

"There's a conference in San Francisco in January. They'd like me to be on a panel. We can go for the day, get our trip paid for, and spent the rest of the time sight seeing. That is, if you want to."

"That's sounds great, Jim! Are you sure it's all right with you, Simon?"

"A week without the two of you in my hair? I'll call for the taxi now." Simon joked.

Despite Blair's curiosity, Jim didn't really want to talk about the trip, or the gifts he'd been giving Blair all week long, so Blair didn't press. But he thought about it a lot, and came to the conclusion that maybe Jim didn't feel quite as differently as Blair had assumed.. He wasn't ready to ask Jim about it yet, but if he was right, this was shaping up to be a hell of a holiday.

After work on Tuesday, Jim had a meeting to go to, and told Blair he'd see him at home later. It was a good time for Blair to catch up on personal correspondence. He signed on to his email account; there was a message from . Thinking it was probably one of their usual sales circulars, he ignored it in favor of his real mail. Then, wondering what new books they were offering, he opened it.

'A gift for you' the letter said. "Food for the mind, sustenance for the soul. - Jim." The gift was enough credit to replace his laptop with a newer model, or buy him all the books on his "I'll never afford these but it's fun to browse" wish list.

Blair was floored. He added up all the gifts Jim had given him that week; the tally was staggering. Not just monetarily, but the concern and consideration it had taken for Jim to come up with such varied, yet perfect ideas.

Jim knew him. Better than anyone in his life ever had. The feeling warmed Blair from the inside out; more deeply than clothing or cocoa.

He sat in his room a long time. He had thinking to do; a partnership to reassess. Coming to a decision he'd really already made a long time before, he put on his coat and left the loft.

Jim would be gone another hour. There was just enough time to run a quick errand and be back in time for dinner. He hoped he could still find what he needed.

Jim's truck was in its usual spot when Blair got back. Late afternoon was settling over Cascade, and a light snow was falling. Holding his small treasure behind his back, Blair walked into the apartment.

He was surprised to find it nearly dark, the only light coming from the last vestiges of the setting sun. It made a reddish glow that surrounded Jim, and sent a rush of warmth to Blair's heart.

Jim was standing in front of the mantelpiece, back to Blair. Blair couldn't tell what Jim was doing.

"Jim, buddy? What's going on? Why are the lights off? Your vision isn't spiking, is it?"

"No, Chief. I'm just fine. Come here." Jim held out a hand, motioning Blair over. Now Blair could see what Jim had been up to.

Sitting on their mantel was a Hanukkah Menorah - a Hanukkiah, as it was more properly called. There were eight candles in it, still unlit.

"I tried to get this on time for your holiday, but Naomi?well, it didn't get here until today. She says it's the one your grandparents used to use. I'm not sure I'm doing it right. Will you show me what to do?"

"Sure, Jim." Blair told Jim how to light the candles, from right to left. "You use this one candle that's separate from the rest - the Shamash - to light the others. One on the first night, two on the second, and so on. But this is the last night, so we light them all."

He lit the candles one by one, and said the blessing over them, in Hebrew and then in English.

Jim watched and said, "That's beautiful, Blair. Thank you for showing me."

"No, Jim, thank you. You didn't have to do this. Don't think I haven't noticed all you've done for me this week."

"There's a reason."

"I thought there might be. Do you want to tell me about it?"

"Yeah." Jim said, nervously. "Let's sit on the couch."

Blair smiled reassuringly. "All right."

"I don't know very much about Hanukah, or any other Jewish holiday, for that matter. But I do know it has something to do with a miracle."

"Yeah. The oil in the temple lasted for eight days, instead of one. And then there were the Maccabees ---"

"So anyway," Jim went on, clearly not wanting a lecture on Judaic history just now, "it dawned on me that you were my miracle, and I needed to let you know that. Let you know how I feel."

"I - I don't know what to say, Jim. That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said about me."

"Let me get this out, all right? You know this stuff is hard for me."


"I love you, Blair. I'm tired of hiding it, of second-guessing myself. I'm not the person I used to be, and it's all because of you." Jim took Blair's hands in his, or tried to. "What do you have there, Chief?"

"I was wondering when you'd notice this." Blair opened the small paper bag, and pulled out the bright green mistletoe. He held it over Jim's head, and stretched up to kiss him. "I love you, too. I think I always have."

When they pulled apart a few moments later, a bit disheveled, and a lot happier, Blair settled in next to Jim.

"You know, my grandfather gave this to me the year I had my Bar Mitzvah. He said having your own Hanukiah was halfway to having a home of your own: a Bet Ahavah. House of Love."

"And do you have that? " Jim asked, pulling Blair in closer.

'I do now, Jim. More than anything, that's what you've given me."

"Happy Hanukkah, Blair."

"Merry Christmas, Jim."

They talked late into the night, and one by one the candles flickered out. But for all that, there was no less light in the room.


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