Amy Ellison, daughter of Steven and Gail Ellison, was having a problem. It was the annual Cascade PD Fourth of July picnic, and Jim had invited Steven's family to join them for food, fun and fireworks. Amy, age four, wanted to enjoy a banana, but was having a tough time of it. She attempted to peel it, but all she was able to do was squish up the end; the fruit remained stubbornly unpeeled. She huffed in frustration.
"Can I show you something?" Blair asked her gently.
Amy looked up at where Blair stood over her and nodded.
He picked up another banana, then sat down next to her, tailor-fashion. He handed her the fresh banana and took the sad, smashed one for himself. "Try doing it this way," he said. He turned the banana so that the blossom end was facing up, then applied a little pressure on the end with his thumb to break the skin and peel it down.
Amy mimicked him and easily peeled back her banana's skin. She looked at him in surprise. "How did you do that, Uncle Blair?"
Blair grinned. "That's the way monkeys peel bananas in the jungle. Larry, a very good friend of mine, showed me how to do it. It's easier than starting at the other end." With that, he took a big bite of his banana, made a funny face, and started chewing.
Amy laughed and did the same.
Steven and Jim watched the exchange from the picnic table they were occupying. "Is there anything he doesn't know?" Steven asked with amusement.
Jim shook his head. "Not much," he replied. "Hey, they're starting up a softball game. Wanna join?"
Blair waved to them as they took off, then turned his attention back to Amy, who started telling him about her pre-school, her friends, her favorite toys and her room in their new house.
Both men were breathing hard and covered in sweat.
"Whew, that was intense," Blair said between breaths. "I didn't realize fireworks did that for you."
"Not fireworks," Jim mumbled.
"Mm? What was it?"
Jim hesitated. "You. And that banana."
Blair was silent for a moment. Jim could practically see the smoke coming out of his ears as Blair thought hard about Jim's cryptic comment. Or maybe it was steam from his cooling body.
"Hah! Larry!" Smoke, damn it! "I knew you liked him. You put on that gruff face, but I knew you liked the little guy. You know how I knew?"
"No," Jim said drily, "but I'm sure you'll tell me."
"The night you came over when my place blew up. You brought over the camera and stayed to watch TV. You sat right next to Larry, sharing popcorn with him like he was your best friend." Blair laughed at the memory. "You sure hit it off. I guess that's why you just let it go even though he messed up your place."
Jim sighed. Obviously, he was going to have to come clean. "It wasn't that I liked him."
"No, Einstein. I liked you. But you were lavishing all that attention on Larry. I was… alright, I was a little jealous." He scowled as Blair snorted. "I thought if I made nice with Larry, you'd, you know, like me better…" Jim trailed off.
"Oh, I liked you all right. I just couldn't show it. You were my doctoral subject, for god's sake. But how you treated Larry really showed me how tender you could be, especially towards helpless creatures. And, you know, Larry took to you right away."
Blair nodded. "If you weren't already smitten with me," Jim poked him in the ribs, "Larry might have made a play for you himself." Blair chuckled. "So, Monkey Man, how'd you like another round of hot jungle love?"
"That's 'Barbary Ape Man' to you," Jim replied, leaning up on one elbow and giving Blair a kiss. "And I'd love it."