"Man, I hate wrapping paper." Blair fought with a sheet of brightly bedizened paper that was behaving like a sail in a high wind and hissed with frustration when it tore.
"You mean you hate wrapping presents," Jim corrected from the couch, turning a page in his newspaper with the crisply efficient rustle of a man not intimidated by wood pulp.
"Pedantic asshole," Blair muttered. "No, I don't mean that at all, Jim. I like wrapping presents. I like making something look mysterious and exciting and I like thinking about how much the person I'm wrapping it for will enjoy ripping into it. What I don't like is this goddamned paper because it's driving me fucking nuts. It keeps tearing and when I fold it, it wrinkles and creases and the gift looks like shit."
Jim peered over his paper and sniffed. "Cheap, thin paper, that's why. You should invest in the good stuff."
Blair narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "You know everywhere was sold out and I was lucky to get this. Are you sitting on some of that heavy-duty, classy gift-wrap and not sharing? Scrooge."
Jim stood, looming tall. "I did, but I don't have any left, Sandburg," he said coolly. "I used it all wrapping your presents. The ones I shopped for in the rain after pulling a double shift. Excuse me while I unwrap them and give you the paper instead. It won't be much good for anything, but God forbid you think I'm a penny-pinching miser."
"Jim! Wait! Jim."
Jim stalked upstairs and Blair scrambled to his feet to follow him. He found Jim sitting on their bed, his hands clasped, his face set in unhappy lines.
Without speaking, Blair sat beside him and put his arm around Jim's shoulders. It was like hugging Mt. Rainier. Okay, there had to be more going on than a few swapped insults; Jim could take those on the chin. He rubbed Jim's back, an undemanding caress, and eventually Jim yielded with a sigh and relaxed into Blair's waiting arms.
"Tell me," Blair whispered against Jim's neck. "You know I didn't mean any of that stuff I said, so tell me what's wrong."
"You hate wrapping paper," Jim said, the words dragged out of him. "I hate this time of year. You're not a cop; you don't see how it brings out the worst in people, how fake the goodwill seems when you're dealing with people mugged for the latest must-have toy they've bought for their kid, or driving home from a party, so drunk they stink, until I want to throw up just walking by them." He met Blair's gaze. "I wrapped your presents thinking of them, not you, and it's just…spoiled."
"So give them to me in February," Blair said, hiding pity with a casual shrug. "I can wait until you've gotten over this."
"Yeah?" Jim said skeptically.
"I still get mine tomorrow, though?"
Blair rolled his eyes and nodded. "Unwrapped," he qualified.
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