Jim had awkwardly asked what Blair wanted for Christmas, intending it as a substitute for the thank you he couldn't say aloud. Because he'd given Blair a roof over his head, but Blair had found a toothpaste that didn't scrape the enamel off Jim's teeth and he just grinned at the worst mood Jim could throw at him.
The kid had balls. And Jim wanted to confirm that anatomical theory with at least four of his senses. Call it a New Year's resolution.
Blair cleared his throat and acquired a certain warily resigned tension. "The thing is, Jim, I don't exactly do Christmas. Jewish, remember?"
"Oh, God, of course you don't." Jim's face was burning. "I'm sorry, that was just -- Listen, forget it, okay?"
Blair nodded, the tension bleeding away, and bingo, Jim's (short) shopping list had one less name on it and he could stay aloof as around him people panicked and scuttled from store to store.
He was heading home through the Christmas Eve chaos, on foot because he'd been drinking and there wasn't a cab to be had, still smug, feeling that lack of pressure, when he passed a used bookstore. He was inside it before his brain caught up to what his feet were doing.
"We're just about to close."
"Five minutes," Jim said, holding up that many fingers. "Please."
The man behind the counter looked tired. "I'll start turning lights off soon," he warned.
"I can see really well in the dark," Jim assured him, heading toward the back of the store, where the boring books lived.
The anthropological section was small. Half a shelf. Jim pulled books out at random, sweating with a panic that was ridiculous because Blair didn't want -- wasn't expecting -- what the hell was he doing?
He walked back to the front of the store, empty-handed. "Sorry," he said curtly. And he knew that the man had the perfect book somewhere on the shelves. Maybe Burton had written a sequel, all about how Sentinels needed more from those people watching their backs than better brands of toothpaste, needed hands on TLC, needed naked touching, skin on skin --
"No problem." The man hesitated. "Look, if you tell me what you want…"
Jim frowned. What he wanted? He wanted… He wanted Blair. Around him, stores were closing and harried people were going home laden with stuff, but what he wanted was waiting back at the loft, because Blair, astonishingly, had turned down every party invitation and told Jim he'd be spending the night at home, if that was okay.
And maybe that was a present for Jim right there. Not a Christmas one, no, but one Blair had fretted over, thought about, second-guessed, wrapped in jeans and flannel and a sweet, hopeful smile --
"I got it covered," he said and left, hurrying now.
He'd just realized that as it wasn't a Christmas present, he got to open it early, if he wanted.
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