Jim feels nothing but relief when he walks into the loft, Blair closing the door behind them. The last few days have been a rollercoaster, ending with him finally letting go of a little of the guilt he’d been carrying around for the last four years.
Not all of it, of course. Jim doesn’t think he’ll ever be rid of all of his guilt over Jack’s death.
“You want a beer?” Blair asks.
“God, yes,” Jim replies. “I’m going out to the balcony if you want to join me.”
He needs to not be inside right now, and it’s a beautiful day, so it’s the balcony. Blair is still feeling sorry for him or something, because he brings two bottles outside and joins Jim a few minutes later without making a remark about Jim getting his own damn beer.
“Thanks,” Jim says sincerely.
“No problem.” He clinks his bottle against Jim’s. “You feeling any better?”
Jim takes a long drink. “It’s not the first time I’ve been under a cloud of suspicion,” he admits.
“Jim, it’s not your fault.”
“Maybe not,” he says, which is more than he would have been able to admit a few days ago. “Whatever Simon said, I wasn’t blind to Jack’s faults, you know.”
Blair just takes a long drink, his throat working, distracting him a bit.
“He could be a real jerk,” Jim admits. “And he was an arrogant SOB. He never heard it when you said no.”
A snort from Blair has Jim’s lips twitching.
“Go ahead and say it.”
“Did you learn that from him?” Blair asks.
“No, I was like that before I met Jack,” Jim admits.
“Simon was right about one thing,” Blair says.
Blair reaches over and taps Jim’s forehead and then his chest. “You always had what it took to be a good detective—here and here.”
Jim captures Blair’s hand when Blair taps his chest. “You never doubted me,” he murmurs.
Blair rolls his eyes. “Man, I know you. You’re not a dirty cop, and you never would have trusted a dirty cop as much as you trusted Jack.”
“He might have taken kickbacks,” Jim admits.
“Doesn’t change anything,” Blair insists. “Like you said—you trusted him, and that was never proven. That’s all I need to know.”
Jim hasn’t released Blair’s yet, but he hasn’t pulled away either. “I’m not sure if I have the worst luck in the world to keep getting tangled up in shit like this, or if I have a target painted on my back,” Jim muses.
“Did you ever think that maybe Jack was protecting you because he knew you were a good cop?” Blair counters, squeezing Jim’s hand. “A little rough around the edges, maybe, but a good man.”
Jim smiles. “Did you know I had an earring?”
Blair laughs. “You?”
“Jack told me to get rid of it to keep the criminals from getting the wrong idea,” Jim admits.
Blair rolls his eyes. “The idea that an earring is an indicator of sexual orientation is—”
Jim short circuits the anthropological speech by pressing his lips to Blair’s, slipping his tongue into Blair’s mouth when he doesn’t pull back immediately.
When Jim breaks off, Blair blinks at him. “Okay, so the earring might have been an indicator of flexibility in your case,” Blair says after a moment.
Jim’s stomach does a slow flip. “Do you mind?”
“Mind?” Blair asks incredulously. “Are you kidding me?”
He reaches out and pulls Jim close again, their mouths meeting, their teeth clashing briefly until they find their rhythm again. Jim cards his fingers through Blair’s hair, feeling the coarse strands, breathing deeply and smelling Blair’s shampoo and all-natural soap.
He tastes beer and Blair, and lets out a happy sigh, all the stresses of the last few days falling away.
Blair runs a hand over Jim’s closely shorn hair. “What brought that on, man?”
“I’ve got plenty of regrets,” Jim admits. “I didn’t want this to be one of them.”
Blair smiles. “You know, your suspension’s been lifted, but Simon gave you the weekend. I say we stay in.”
Jim grins broadly. “Have I ever told you you’re a genius?”
And maybe Jim has been under a cloud of suspicion before, but this is the first time he’s had Blair in his corner.
Even if he can’t say it out loud yet, having Blair on his side makes all the difference.