The Rising of the Sun

O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

It's not the first sunrise he's seen from the wrong side, tired eyes sleep-gritted, body floating on willpower and caffeine after pulling a double -- make that triple -- shift through a combination of circumstances. Just the first since Sandburg moved in.

The kid sleeps sound, sleeps late, and when Jim lets himself in, he takes care to close the door quietly, and when he's aching to wash the filth and smoke away in the shower he settles for running a silent trickle of water into his cupped hands and splashing it onto his face.

He plans to leave a note warning Sandburg of the penalties if his guest is less considerate when he wakes in a few hours time and then fall into bed, but the splash of pale winter light through the window captures his attention.

It's cool on the balcony this close to Christmas and a single star sparkles defiantly, soon to be dimmed, extinguished, as the sun shoulders its way up into the sky.

He sits in a chair, intending to watch the sunrise for just a little while before he closes his eyes and makes his own artificial night by burrowing into his pillows and covers.

He's asleep in moments, sprawled out lax and spent, his head turned away from the red glow.

He wakes to Blair singing along to a carol on the radio and stumbles inside, half-dead, to kill him.

"Jim. Jim, man, hey…" The music cuts out abruptly and Blair comes close enough that Jim can smell him, the sharp sweetness of orange juice, the crisp crumble of toast. He smells of morning and new beginnings and all Jim wants is night and oblivion.

"Bed. Now."

And Blair blinks, looks startled, then smiles, and Jim realizes what he's said, how Blair took it -- and how he didn't -- and they're staring at each other in a waiting, wondering silence until Jim finds the right words.

"Good night, Chief."

Blair's smile widens and sweetens all at once and it's like the sunrise Jim missed. "I'll be quiet. Ten minutes, I'll be gone. Got some shopping to do."

He nods, already yawning, already working out in his head how to make his feet move to mount the stairs.

When he stumbles -- and he's not sure he's awake, not really -- Blair's there, solid in a wavering world. He lets himself be guided to the bed and stands passively as Blair, face placid, fingers deft, unbuttons Jim's shirt and deals with the complexities of a belt buckle and zipper. Jim shrugs off his outer clothes, staggers forward, falls, and lets Blair tug the covers up over him.

And Blair leaves, off to start the day Jim's going to sleep through and Jim hears him singing softly to himself in the elevator, a descending descant about running deer and rising suns.

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