Tied With Tinsel

by Jane Davitt

"Julie tied me up with this stuff once," Blair remarked, running a rope of silver tinsel through his hands. It shimmered and rustled and Jim snatched it off him before his head exploded.

"Talk about your sexploits a little louder, Sandburg," he hissed. "I don't think all the kids heard you."

Blair glanced at the children clustered around the shelter's only TV. They were watching the latest Disney video, their mouths busy crunching candy canes to sugary splinters, both treats courtesy of Simon. "Nah. They're too wiped from decorating the tree."

The tree had been fun for all. Hanging tinsel around the large room was boring and a two-man job for which Jim and Blair had volunteered. Jim had hammered the same fingernail twice and they still had three walls to go.

"Even so."

"It didn't work," Blair continued, moving the ladder along. "It's got this metal core that really digs in, and just when things were heating up, I pulled on it, it snapped, and my hand smacked her face. Hard."

"I hope she slapped you back," Jim muttered, calculating festoon loops in his head in self-defense. Twenty yards of tinsel left and the walls were about forty feet, so if he allowed each loop to hang down about eighteen inches…no, better make it nineteen…

"She bit me," Blair said, which conjured up images horrifying enough that Jim dropped the box of nails and then bumped heads with Blair as they squatted down to pick them up.

"Will you watch what you're doing?" Jim growled. "Shit, Sandburg, forget the tinsel; I'm tempted to cuff you to something so I can get this job done before Easter rolls around. You're a liability."

"I'm sorry, okay? It was an accident."

It was impossible to miss the hurt in Blair's eyes and Jim sighed. "Okay, that came out wrong."

"No kidding." Blair began to gather the nails, his mouth tight, his face averted. "I'll get out of your way when I've picked these up. Maybe help Simon in the kitchen."

"He doesn't need you," Jim said. "I do."

Blair looked at him. "To do what? Gross you out some more?"

"I wasn't --" Jim stopped. "I was jealous, okay?"

"Of what? I didn't even get to come; we were laughing so much the mood passed."

"You don't laugh with me," Jim said and watched Blair freeze. "We fuck, and you come, but you don't smile much. Sometimes, I wonder…"

"What?" Blair asked tensely.

"If you sleep with me to keep me happy. To make sure I let you stay."

Blair gasped. "Are you insane?"

Jim shrugged.

"I love you," Blair snarled, "though at times like this I wonder why. And I don't goof around because I'm scared you're going to change your mind and kick me out of bed. Which would kill me."

Blair thrust the tinsel at him and stalked away, leaving Jim to shape a single word under his breath and smile from relief and joy.

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