Jim Ellison was finally home. It had been a long, hard day. He'd vanquished the bad guys, but at the cost of a torn shirt and ruined shoes. What he smelled as he opened the loft door made him practically cheer. Beef stew; one of his favorite meals.
"Honey, I'm home!" Jim called out with a smirk. "Something smells great."
Blair grinned. "Hah! As if you couldn't describe it down to the sub-atomic particles. Come over here and I'll trade you a taste for a smooch."
Trade completed, Blair looked Jim over. "Why don't you shower and change and I'll get everything on the table. While we eat, you can tell me why we'll have to go clothes shopping this weekend." Jim headed off to the bathroom.
After dinner, they lounged on the couch, snuggling. While Jim was stroking Blair's back he said, "Babe, thank you, that was great. My only question is... what do you want?"
Blair stiffened a little. "What do you mean?"
"Real beef in the stew, not ostrich or buffalo. Dinner rolls slathered with butter. Cherry pie from Phil's bakery. What's up?"
Blair sighed. "I've been asked to conscript you," he confessed.
"Mandy from our office heads the committee running the holiday baking contest this year. Since anyone from the university can enter, she suggested sourcing the judges from outside of Rainier. She asked if I could get some cops to do it. You know, they're honest and fair, blah, blah, blah."
Jim poked Blair gently in the ribs. "Go on."
"She asked for you, specifically. I think she's got a little crush."
"Totally understandable." Jim grinned. "Since you know I love desserts, what's the problem?"
Blair sighed again. "It's the contest's theme. Every entry has to have peppermint in it. It's called the Peppermint Twist."
Jim sat up. "Blair, you know I can't stand that stuff. People either use way too much, or they use that artificial crap. No amount of dialing down works. I can't do it."
Blair got up and started pacing. "I know, I know. But I think I've got a solution."
Jim rolled his eyes, but gave Blair a "go on" gesture.
"Three judges, three categories: taste, design and originality. I've asked Henri to judge taste because, unlike you, he loves peppermint. Mary Kendricks from Records will judge the recipe's originality.
"And you'll judge design. With your sight you can rate precision, decorations, color palette and all that. Each of you can also offer your opinion in the other categories if you wish." Blair looked down at Jim with a mixture of pleading and hope. "What do you think?"
Jim laughed and pulled Blair back down and wrapped his arms around him. "Sounds like you came up with a good, if convoluted, way for me to agree. Though, I think it would be easier if we found a way to let Mandy down gently."
"Ah, Jim. She's so young. She'll figure it out eventually. Meanwhile, I love you for doing this. And it'll be fun with H and Mary, you'll see."
"All I see is that my love for you is stronger than a peppermint Altoid, babe. Let's move this upstairs so I can show you how much."