Jim came home at ten again, smelling of someone else's cigarettes and whiskey, and with the merest smudge of lipstick on his cheek. He hung his clothes on the balcony in the light evening rain, and took a long shower, so that he emerged smelling of mint and cinnamon.
"What happened this time?" Blair looked up from the pile of reports on the dinner table. Jim took a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and sat opposite him. He took a couple of folders and opened the top one. "Jim?"
He shrugged. "The usual. We had dinner, we went to a bar. We talked. We had nothing in common. I took her home. What case is this?"
"The jewelry store. The one with the pearls and diamonds." He handed Jim a couple of forms and a pen. "We found him in this hole of a motel just playing with the pretties."
"Right. He stank of hotel cleaner." He began to fill stuff in. Blair picked up his own pen, and completed the form on his side. He pulled out another. Eventually, there were no more forms. He looked up, letting his eyes focus on Jim.
"Jim? This is Friday night, right?"
"So, how come we're home doing paperwork?" He indicated the pile of done work. "Shouldn't we be out on dates or something?"
"I don't know about you, Romeo, but I was on one tonight." He signed the last piece of paper and put it in its folder.
Blair straightened up the folders on his side and walked to the refrigerator. He pulled out cheese, meat and various jars of condiments. Taking bread from the box, he began making sandwiches. "Yeah. You were out a grand total of two hours and all you got out of the evening was a kiss - and she never wants to see you again."
"I wouldn't know." Jim stacked the folders neatly and put them away, and got plates and glasses out of the cupboard. He stacked the plates next to Blair and filled the glasses with bottled water to take to the table. "I don't want to see her, though. It was like you said. Nothing for us to talk about. She only wanted to talk about movies and television. Nothing real."
Blair sat down with the sandwich-filled plates and handed one to Jim. "I hear that. But it's more than that, isn't it? It's why I didn't even bother getting a date tonight. It's why I really did prefer doing paperwork with you tonight."
Jim swallowed his bite of sandwich. "It's because she wasn't you. Sometimes I think you're the only person in the world I can talk to anymore. Or, at least I don't run out of things to say to you."
"I'll never run out of things to say." Blair took a drink of water.
Jim laughed. "Not you, Chief." He sobered. "It's not just that. It's…I compare them all to you, and they all fail. All of them. If you were a woman, I think we'd be married now."
Blair bit his lip. "Jim. I think we're married anyway. This partnership of ours - it's not going away, and I don't think anyone else is getting in." Then he had to smile. "But, you know. It's some weird 19th Century celibate thing we have here."
"Like George Bernard Shaw? I don't think I could manage that." He looked at his food, and took a deep breath. "I may not even want that."
"Jim? Have you been holding something back from me, buddy?" Blair could hardly breathe. He'd never thought about Jim that way - maybe because he thought he'd left his bisexual days behind with college. But - it wouldn't be hard to change that.
"Maybe. I mean, you know. Situational stuff happened, and I didn't exactly hate it. And this is a permanent situation, isn't it?" He looked up. His eyes were dilated and he was breathing heavily. "I know you don't swing that way, Sandburg. Blair. So, it's up to you."
"What are you saying?" Blair knew. Blair knew all the way down, but some perversity made him want to hear the words.
"You said we're married, right? And. I know I love you. I'm in love with you, I think. Because just thinking about you married to someone else makes me crazy. Not jealous crazy, but empty crazy." And now his eyes looked like hope.
"Yeah. I know that feeling. I've had it for a long time. A very long time. And." He walked to Jim's side of the table and kissed his cheek. "I think we can manage to do better than the Shaws."
Jim smiled and pulled him into his lap, and kissed him for a long, long time.