Time's Making Changes

The nipple ring goes first. Jim's only seen it in glimpses, but one day, when he ducks into Sandburg's room to blow out a candle the kid's left burning, the flame flickering wildly in a puddling pool of wax, his gaze is caught by the gleam of silver, and he stands there holding it for a long moment, until it's warm against his caressing fingers.

The earrings, well, they come and go. Hard to pin down the very last appearance, but one day, when Blair leans down, his hand on Jim's shoulder, reaching across the desk for Jim's jealously guarded stapler, Jim sees that the shape of the twin, punched holes have started to blur. They'll never disappear, not to his eyes, his touch, but the teasing dangle of metal has gone.

Blair's hair becomes disciplined, tied back, smoothed and captured at the nape of his neck. Still long, still -- sometimes -- freed, but never when he's outside the loft.

His clothes fit better, cost more, are replaced sooner.

His hands slow, his gestures guarded now, his smile polite.

And when one day Jim looks up and sees Blair's hair isn't tied but cut, a neat, sharp line against the pale skin of his neck, it's not a shock, just something to be commented on casually, in passing.

And Blair smiles, sits beside him, and tells him that hey, your hair's looking a little long at the back there, Jim, and when Jim elbows him in the ribs because it is not, it really isn't, Blair's mouth curves in a familiar smile, his eyes limpid and amused.

Blair's right there, next to him. He hasn't gone anywhere.

Jim's mostly stopped worrying that he will.

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