Simon took a sip of beer and used his bottle to gesture at a carved wooden mask. "That his?"
Jim didn't bother to turn his head to check. Nothing he owned would have put that tone of disapproval in Simon's voice, and if Simon had thought the object belonged to Jim, he wouldn't have commented even if he didn't like it.
"You've let him settle in."
"Give me a few boxes and half an hour and you wouldn't know he'd ever been here." Jim shrugged. "It's just stuff. Nothing structural."
"Yeah." Simon didn't sound convinced. His gaze was drifting, cop's eyes, taking in more than they knew. They kept returning to the curtained alcove where Blair slept.
Jim chewed his lip, wondering how to do this, and was saved by the phone. He let it ring, shrugging again as Simon gave him a questioning look when the answerphone kicked in. "It’s probably for Sandburg, sir."
It was. A female voice, nervous and husky. "Blair? This is Anna. I just wanted to say… last night was… well, I hope we can do it again? There's a party at Jeff's on Saturday and if you want, well, we could -- call me?"
Simon gave a chuckle, half relieved. "Will he?"
"I doubt it." He timed the beat just right. "He's out with her roommate tonight."
Simon guffawed, hearty and overly loud in the echoing space of the loft. "He is? How does he do it?"
"He works at it." Jim waited until Simon had stopped laughing and then stood. "Simon?"
Simon got to his feet, frowning as Jim beckoned him over. "Jim?"
Jim pulled aside the curtains that cloaked Blair's room and gestured for Simon to look inside. Warily, hesitantly, Simon peered in. It was a mess. The clothes Blair had worn that day, clothes Simon had seen him in, were a crumpled heap on the floor and the bed matched them, sheets tangled in the shape of a sleeping Blair.
"You could have just asked," Jim said softly, refusing to go along with the charade any longer.
"I didn't need to." Now, that was a lie. But Jim let it pass. Simon turned away and Jim followed him to a place between bedroom and door.
"Why is he still here, Jim?"
"I need him." Jim's voice was toneless. "You want me late for work because I'm zoning on a raindrop rolling down the window or puking my guts up because of a smell I can't pin down?"
"Seems to me like he's not here enough to be useful," Simon said dryly.
"He's here enough and I'm lucky he's willing to help."
Simon processed that and then nodded, sold. "I never thought --"
"It's not how it is, Jim. It's how it looks. You know that."
Jim nodded. "Sure."
Simon glanced around again, very carefully not letting his eyes tilt up to where Jim slept. "All looks fine to me. Thanks for the beer."
Jim listened to the sound of Simon's retreating footsteps, as eager to leave as they'd been reluctant to approach, and then walked upstairs.
To his bed, which was still redolent of Blair's scent --always his bed they fuck on, always -- to his room which contained nothing of Blair -- no room, Chief, keep it down there, will you? God, it's not that far to walk!
To wait for Blair to come back from another date which would end in a plaintive message Blair would never return.
To wait for Blair.
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