Simon stared at the
piece of paper he'd drawn in the Secret Santa
present swap. It still said 'Jim Ellison'.
Any other year and he'd have been thanking the elves, because Jim was easy to buy for; Simon just got him a fishing gift that he would have liked himself and got Rhonda to wrap it. Simple.
This year, though… just how long had it been since Jim called him 'Simon' instead of a chilly, polite, 'sir' or 'Captain'? Too long. Long enough that people had stopped speculating about what two men who'd been friends for years outside work had argued about
Simon knew, and it wasn't his fault, dammit, it wasn't. How had they expected him to react? Jim knew the way things were as well as Simon, and if the Ellison approach to office politics was a stony stare as he trampled over the niceties of negotiated concessions, well, Jim had never had to explain why a certain Mr. Sandburg was still riding along, months, hell, years longer than any other observer ever had.
He'd stuck out his neck for the two of them, smoothed over criticisms, doubts, played up Jim's enviable record of solving cases, made Blair seem like the older, earnest scholar Simon had originally expected him to be -- unless it was someone who'd actually met Sandburg, of course…
And then they'd told him they were lovers, and if they hadn't used those words, if Blair for once had been fumbling for eloquence while Jim sat silent, his eyes pleading with Simon to understand, they'd said enough -- more than enough -- for Simon to get the picture.
And he'd reacted badly. Not through prejudice, no matter what that damn kid had said, blue eyes blazing, cheeks scarlet, stepping between Jim and Simon, his hands extended protectively, warding Simon off. No. Not that. Never that.
Just… it was going to make a difficult situation worse. And it'd been a shock, for God's sake, and he hadn't thought they were like that, and he felt stupid for missing it, and --
He'd been left speechless, reviewing years of memories in a new light. And he'd gotten angry when Blair challenged him, gotten angrier when Jim just stood there, making no effort to see it from Simon's point of view.
(Because he was too upset to talk, idiot. Stricken, hurt, dull eyes, like the time you told Daryl you were moving out)
And then drew a piece of paper and an envelope from his drawer and scrawled out an invitation to dinner on a night he knew Jim was off duty over the Christmas holidays.
He wrapped it later, fighting with paper and tape, and then attached the tag.
To Jim and Blair. Best wishes from Simon.
Simon got a scarf from Taggart in the exchange, warm and light, and he didn't see Jim open his gift.
But Jim called him 'Simon' later, and smiled, then nodded, so Simon knew he'd gotten it.
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