Naughty or Nice
Blair stood in the middle of the kitchen and looked around. The place was a mess, but that was understandable considering the task he was in the middle of undertaking. He had volunteered to make several dozen batches of Christmas cookies for charity.
It felt like tons now.
It was for a good cause though, one that Blair used to volunteer for often, but his police schedule didn't allow for that this year. So, when the woman from the children's shelter came into the bullpen the previous week asking for help, Blair couldn't refuse.
Actually... Blair and Jim couldn't refuse.
Blair grimaced and glanced from the clock to the door - - again. Jim was late. No, Jim wasn't late; Jim had surpassed late two hours earlier. He sighed as the timer beeped and bent to take the cookies from the oven. Jim had said he wanted to help, that they could spend the day together baking. It was a great plan, even if a bit sickeningly sweet, one that would have worked if Simon hadn't asked Jim to stay for the afternoon shift.
Earlier in the week, Sandburg had approached the Captain and requested the day off for himself and a half-day for Jim. Evidently the criminals had other plans. As Blair removed the warm cookies from the baking sheet, he remembered the hurried but sweet phone call from his partner earlier.
Simon had asked him to stay. He was sorry. He'd be home as soon as possible and so forth and so on. Unaware that he glanced at the door again, Blair also remembered that Jim had called back later and said that he'd be home by four.
It was now after five.
Blair should probably worry, considering their history, but he was just too busy. He'd hoped to have the baking and the cleaning finished before the Jags game, which started in a half hour.
There was no way. None. Even if Jim were...
The sound of jingling keys came from the door and Blair quickly shoved the refilled cookie sheet into the oven. He set the timer and jogged to the door.
With a flourish he pulled the door open, already talking. "Babe, where the hell..." He began before he noticed that it wasn't his lover standing there, but his boss. "Simon?"
"You always greet people with 'babe,' Sandburg?"
"Well, no. Where's Jim?"
"Parking the truck, since I have these," Simon said as he lifted his arms to show that they were full of two cases of beer. “What happened to you? Did the flour explode?"
"Ha-ha." Blair grabbed a case of beer and started for the refrigerator. "Put the other one over there for now. They won't all fit."
Simon nodded and followed the pointed finger, then froze as he saw the state of the kitchen.
"Damn Sandburg, what the hell is going on here?"
The beer was quickly shoved into an empty spot on the lower shelf and Blair stood to answer, but the timer pinged again. He groaned, grabbed an oven mitt and retrieved the nicely browned cookies and began to remove them from the sheet.
"I'm baking Simon."
"I can see that. Why?"
"I told you, I volunteered to help the shelter."
"They need all these cookies?" Simon asked innocently.
The chef's head snapped up and he leveled a stare at the inquisitor, not buying the innocent act. "Yes. They do. Touch them and you shall be punished."
Simon started to laugh.
Blair shook the spatula at the tall Captain. "I kid you not! I've been slaving all freakin' day. You aren't coming in here and pigging out."
Slightly offended, Simon answered, "I've never pigged out."
Without raising his head from his task, which was spooning more dough onto the now empty sheet, Blair responded. "Don't make me rehash the time you had to stay over after poker night complaining about having too many chips, peanuts, candy, pretzels, beer... and whatever else that wasn't nailed down."
Simon clamped his mouth shut and escaped to the living room. He didn't want anything to do with Sandburg when he was like this. Reaching for the remote, he found the channel for the game.
"Why didn't Jim help you?" the normally smart Captain asked.
All movement stopped in the kitchen.
And at the door.
"What did you say?"
At Blair's tone Simon turned and looked. Sandburg was still in the kitchen, apron covered with flour, dough, and whatever else went into the cookies; Simon wasn't even going to examine the kid's hair. And then there was Jim, frozen in his tracks at the door. At the look on his senior detective's face, Simon knew Jim had forgotten to let him in on something.
"Um... I..." he stuttered.
"Why didn't Jim help me?" The tone was increasingly disbelieving.
"Uh, yeah." Sheepish did not become the large man.
Jim felt bad and stepped from behind his hiding place.
"Hey Chief." Jim hung his jacket on the hook and went to give Blair a kiss hello. Like normal. He tried for normal -- he had to get credit for that.
Blair took a step back and raised a hand. Simon just turned his back to the partners, deciding that he didn't want to be a witness right now.
"Jim!" Blair said with false cheeriness. "Why didn't you help me? Did I forget to ask?" He batted his eyes.
Jim knew he was in trouble. Deep trouble.
"Blair, you have to understand..."
With an evil chuckle Blair turned to the oven to check the last cookie sheet. "I don't have to understand anything. You said you'd help. You didn't. And to compound the problem – you lied. Did you even have to work this afternoon?"
When Jim hesitated, Blair spoke again. "Remember our boss is on the sofa, enjoying this little show we're putting on, so I can ask him."
Jim had trouble refusing Blair on a regular day, but with his partner in his current state -- all messed up and annoyed in the kitchen and looking decidedly cute -- Jim didn't stand a chance. "I had to meet a contact, but..."
Ellison blinked. It couldn't be that easy. But it seemed that Blair was content to finish with his cookies. Jim made a quick side trip to the fridge to get two beers and then retreated to the living room. As he sat, he handed one to Simon.
"You do realize that he's pissed off."
"That you are going to have to atone for this for quite some time."
"Why did you do it?"
"I didn't expect to get caught quite so quickly." Jim gave him an evil glare.
"Don't give me that Ellison! You want to lie to the kid, you're on your own... or at least let me in on it. I had no warning!"
The beer was swallowed smoothly as Jim turned toward his friend. "Ok, next time I'll let you in on it."
From the kitchen, the Sentinel heard a bare mutter, "there better not be a next time," followed by the clatter of pans.
Jim winced and Blair grinned to himself -- evilly.
As the cookies cooled, Blair cleaned up the kitchen while Jim and Simon watched the Jags game. Blair was able to keep up with the game as he worked because of the colorful commentary the two watching it were constantly shouting out.
The upside to being a Guide was that he was able to slowly torture his Sentinel without being too obvious about it. Jim was smart -- he'd figure it out. Eventually.
The kitchen was finished; the dishes, pots, pans, baking sheets and whatever else Blair had used were all sparkly and put away. He just had to box up all the cookies. However, throughout the clean up process the subtle annoyances began. Blair would start to mumble under his breath and when he was certain that Jim had tuned him in... he'd drop something. Loudly.
It was childish and Blair would probably be ashamed later, but for now he was angry but couldn't do much about it. He wasn't going to give Simon the opportunity to watch an argument, a domestic one at that, between himself and Jim. He'd already called the man 'babe' -- that was all the embarrassment Blair could take. It was Jim's turn to shoulder it.
Jim tried to watch the game, to concentrate on it, but at half time he had a splitting headache. He'd tried to let it go away on its own, but by that point he'd had enough. He was headed for the bathroom when he noticed that the kitchen was clean. That observation just made his head pound harder. He should have helped Blair clean, but he'd already asked Simon over to watch the game.
Was that a preemptive defense against Sandburg? Yep and it worked too. For now. Jim quickly found the aspirin and took a few with a glass of water. On his way back to the couch he noticed the absence of cookies, just the lingering fragrance in the air. Jim looked around. All the counter tops were clean and clear of any baked goods.
"Yeah," Came an answer from behind the island.
"Where are all the cookies?"
"I packed them up."
Jim swallowed. "All of them?"
The Sentinel could hear the grin in his Guide's voice, not to mention the choked laughter from the sofa.
"They're going to the shelter. Remember?"
"But... what about us?" Yes, that whine came from a grown man.
"What about us? I had some during the baking process." The voice finally popped up from behind its hiding place. "Oh, did you want some?"
It was said innocently enough, but the malice was there, lurking in the undertone.
"Well... no, I suppose not."
This time Jim glared at Simon when the Captain couldn't control his laughter. "You know, sir, that means you don't get any either."
The laughter died immediately.
"Sandburg? Is that true? You didn't save any for me?"
"No, sir. I don't give cookies to people who would help others deceive."
Simon stared at Blair, open-mouthed and Blair had to turn his back and fiddle in the sink to cover the smile that grew across his face. Jim just laughed and Simon's stare turned into a scowl.
"You know that's not fair." Simon complained to Jim as he resettled on the sofa.
"Nothing I can do."
"You think you're sleeping on the couch?"
Jim shrugged. "Maybe, I don't know."
The game finally started again and the Jags attempted to keep their five point lead. Blair looked over the kitchen once more and found everything in order. The only thing left was the large bag of flour on the counter that Blair needed to put away. With a wicked look in his eye, he noted the tear in the paper seam, but lifted the bag from the counter anyway, ignoring the small pile of white stuff left behind.
The white powder was trailed all over the kitchen as Blair walked aimlessly about, supposedly checking cabinets. Well it wasn't totally aimless; his aim was to litter the kitchen with flour, but subtly. Kind of subtly. Ok not subtly at all, but the clean freak deserved it.
Round and round he went and everywhere he went the light path of flour followed.
After several trips he dumped the rest of the flour into it's container -- not surprised to find that the powder fit after all. Was he evil? Yes he was.
Jim was oblivious on the couch, focused on the game because he didn't want to listen to Blair any longer. The aspirin was finally kicking in and he was enjoying the release of the pain. That lasted maybe ten minutes until Blair came into the room to say good night.
Good night? It was only seven o'clock! But Blair headed up to bed, which was a good sign to Jim showing that he was probably not exiled to the couch. Simon just snickered beside him.
Once upstairs Blair really set the major part of his plan into action. He really was upset about Jim deliberating ditching him and lying on top of it, but he couldn't work himself up into a really pissy mood. Tormenting Jim sounded like more fun.
"I can't believe you did that to me, Jim." Blair said in a barely there whisper.
He couldn't see his partner, but the Sentinel grimaced a little. As soon as Blair had retreated up to bed, he'd tuned in to his lover, so the words were easily heard.
"I mean..." Blair took his flannel shirt off, and toed off his shoes. "You said you would help. And what do you do?" He undid his jeans and slipped them down and then off. "You use work as an excuse to get out of helping. These were for the kids, you know. And not only that..." He lifted his white t-shirt off. "You, just like that, easily lied to me man."
Blair reached across the bed and snatched his bed shirt and pulled it on. It was an old Cascade PD shirt but with long sleeves. Perfect for the chilly winter nights. "I'm sure that if you really didn't want to help, you would have told me... right?"
"I mean, Jim, lying?" Blair sighed as he pulled back the covers and crawled in. "You just stay down there with Simon, evidently this didn't mean as much to you as it did to me."
Jim swallowed and squeezed his eyes shut.
The Sentinel sighed.
The Captain took pity on his detective. He knew where Jim was coming from, the classic position of being caught between a rock and a hard place. If Simon was asked to leave that meant that Blair was more important and that Jim was whipped. If Simon stayed then Blair didn't mean as much as a basketball game and Jim was an ass. Simon felt for him, so he made the decision for him.
"Jim, I'm going to go." Simon had never seen Jim look that grateful before.
"Ok Simon -- thanks. Sorry about tonight. I really had no idea he was going to be making all those cookies. I figured he'd be finished before the game."
Simon settled the coat on his shoulders and withdrew his keys from his pocket. "It's fine. I get it. You need to kiss some major ass..."
Jim laughed and he could hear Blair's giggle floating down.
Simon blinked and realized what he'd said. "That's not... I mean..." he stuttered, flustered. "Never mind," he added as he opened the door.
To find two wrapped plates full of cookies.
Both Jim and Simon glanced up at the loft, but only Jim could hear the snickering.
"Well, I suppose he wasn't that upset," Simon reasoned, bending to retrieve them.
"Maybe." Jim took the plate that Simon offered him.
"Night Jim. See you tomorrow." He looked up again and raised his voice slightly. "You too Sandburg."
"Yep," came the reply from above.
Simon shook his head and continued out the door as Jim closed it. Once shut Jim leaned against it for a moment before he locked it. He picked up the beers from the living room, turned off the TV and brought the empty bottles into the kitchen. Only to see white residue everywhere. It was a fine layer, but it was on the counter, the floor, the stove... everything.
Jim just sighed. He could either clean it up now, or go up to Blair.
Blair or flour.
Hands down, Blair -- for more than one reason. Once upstairs Jim undressed for bed, throughout which Blair was still and quiet, waiting.
Jim climbed into bed and gathered Blair into his arms. His lover didn't resist but didn't encourage anything either.
"You should be."
"I'm sorry." It sounded slightly pathetic.
"If you didn't want to do it, you could've just said. Geez, did you think I wouldn't know you were lying as soon as you walked in the door?"
Jim's shrug moved Blair's whole body. "I figured. Just didn't have the heart to tell you."
After several minutes of silence Jim couldn't take it any longer and buried his head in the curls laid out on the pillow in front of him. "Are you mad?"
"I should be. But 'tis the season I suppose."
Jim squeezed the body in his arms and Blair shifted further into Jim.
"So, how long did you debate cleaning up the flour before coming up here?" asked Blair innocently.
Jim stilled. "You did that on purpose?! As a test?"
The body in his arms started to shake as Blair chuckled, holding the stronger laughter inside. "Yep."
"I can't believe you. Do you know what you left down there? The mess?"
"Technically, I didn't leave it. You did. You noticed it but opted to come up here instead... which was the wise choice. Plus you and Simon just sat there as I cleaned everything up. That was just rude."
"We didn't mess up the kitchen, Chief."
"That's cause I didn't weasel out of baking, big guy."
"Whatever." Blair sighed. "I'll help you tomorrow, you big wuss."
"Ok." Jim said with a smile.
"I know I was manipulated. I let you do it, you know."
Jim relaxed into the pliant body in his arms and his eyes grew heavy. He knew he had pressed his luck with Blair tonight, but everything was going to be fine. Although it still seemed too easy, Blair didn't normally back off so quickly. He took a deep breath and calmed even further.
"You busy Friday?"
"no," Jim replied quietly, already heading toward sleep.
"Good. I volunteered us to work the Christmas party at the shelter."
"Yeah. You're Santa."
Jim's eyes popped open and he stopped breathing. "Santa? What are you?"
"Nothing, just there to round up the kids and make sure they can reach your lap, that they visit the bathroom before visiting Santa, that type of thing."
"Nope, that's just you."
"You planned all this didn't you? Somehow you knew that I wouldn't bake and now I can't..."
"Good night, Jim. And like I said, I let you talk me into cleaning up the flour. What's a little flour when compared to a Santa suit."
"Sandburg..." Jim groaned.
"I promise not too many pictures."
While Blair closed his eyes, extremely pleased with himself and dozed off, Jim tried to burrow further into Blair, hiding in the soft hair and dreading his upcoming task. Eventually he grinned, accepted his fate and fell asleep.