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Playing Favorites

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"So, why'd you lie to Megan?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"You're lying right now."

"Oh? And who's the human lie detector in this truck?"

"I'm so sorry I ever came up with that moniker. You might be the sentinel on this team, but I know when you're lying."

Jim frowned. "How?"

"If I told you that, I'd never win at poker.  Trust me, you've got a tell." Blair smirked.  "So? Why'd you lie about your favorite song?"

"It's none of her business what my favorite song is."

Blair rolled his eyes. "Please. She's just trying to get ideas to fill up her playlist for the wedding.  She wants a nice variety."

"And she's naturally nosey, I get it."

"So, first you said you didn't have a favorite. Lie number one. Then you said that it was 'Oye Como Va', also a lie."

"Just a little one. Santana is easy to dance to.  Besides, that's the expectation, right? Ellison likes basketball and Santana. Period."  

Blair patted Jim lightly on his arm. "People forget 'still waters run deep'; they only see the surface.  So… do you have a favorite?" he asked with a grin.

Jim hesitated a moment. "Yeah."

"And… are you gonna share?"

"Yeah," Jim said softly, turning to look out his window. As quickly as the Cascade sky changed from sun to overcast, Blair's amused look morphed to concern.   Jim rummaged under his seat and pulled out a tape, removing it from its case and popping it into the player.  

The instrumental was low and melodic, and vaguely familiar. Blair's eyes widened in recognition. "The aboriginal music from Australia?  The one in the machine when…"

"When Incacha visited us. Yeah."

Blair swallowed.  "Why?"

Jim took a deep breath and looked straight ahead, as much to get through the words as to maneuver through traffic.  "After… when I went over that time in my mind, I remembered you. I remembered how you were with him, so serious and enthusiastic and welcoming. How you pushed me to be a sentinel again, the way he would have. How you stayed with him as he died and helped me prepare him for the funeral rites. How you helped the rest of the Chopec get home, even though you were grieving for Janet." Jim stopped and swallowed, and Blair lay an encouraging hand on Jim's thigh.  

"It's when I first realized that I loved you, even though I wasn't sure whether you loved me enough to stay."  Jim gave a one-shoulder shrug.  "So, I took the tape.  At first, I listened to it to remind me of Incacha.  Then, I played it to remind me of when I first thought of you as more than a friend."

Jim's face hardened, and his jaw began to twitch.  "Then things got bad between us; I read that chapter, then Alex, then Ventriss, then… Naomi; it was like a dogpile.   My insecurities got the best of me and I was sure I was mistaken. You know what happened; I got angry and closed off." Blair moved his hand into Jim's; Jim clasped it hard before releasing it.

"When I saw your press conference, I knew I had been mistaken--to ever doubt the depth of your love for me."  They pulled into a parking spot on Prospect; Jim shut off the ignition, silencing the music. He took Blair's hand again and pulled it to his chest, looking into Blair's eyes. " So, I keep the tape with me.  I play it to remind me of that first time; to remind me of the bad times and to remind me that I should never have doubted you; should never doubt our love."

Blair looked into Jim's eyes, wondering how it was possible to love him even more, but he did. Still waters, indeed.  "God, Jim, that's the most wonderful, the most powerful, the most romantic thing anyone has ever said to me." Uncaring that it was broad daylight, he pulled Jim's head toward him for a soft, soulful kiss. They broke and his reached up to kiss Jim lightly once more, then popped the tape out of the player and took it with him out of the truck.

"C'mon," he said, cocking his head toward their place. "This may not make Megan's playlist, but it's made ours.  Come dance with me, Jim; the best is yet to be."


~~the end~~