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True North

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True North

by PsychGirl

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I'm not making any money off of this, so please don't sue me. I just can't get these guys out of my mind.but they belong to Paramount and Pet Fly. Well, as this story shows, they really belong to each other.

Written for LiveJournal Sentinel Thursday challenge #152 - an announcement.
Not betaed, so all mistakes are mine.

This story is a sequel to:

Jim sat at a booth in the back of the bar, nursing his second Scotch. He heard the distinctive rumble of the Volvo's engine as it pulled up, then heard it cut off. He listened to Blair come inside, heard him stop at the bar and order a beer. He didn't look up as Blair slid into the booth across from him.

"How'd you find me?"

Blair snorted. "Jim, man, this is, like, the only bar you ever go to." Jim didn't reply, and silence fell between them. As Jim expected, it didn't take long for Blair's patience to wear thin. "So, you wanna talk about it?"

"Talk about what?"

Blair sighed and pulled the large, square, cream-colored envelope out of the inside pocket of his leather jacket. He opened the envelope and pulled out a piece of heavy card stock. "Ms. Carolyn Plummer," he read aloud, "requests the honor of your presence at the celebration of her marriage to Dr. Terry Poole." He put the invitation down on the table between them. "That. Do you want to talk about that?"

Jim glared at him. "Oh, so now you're reading my mail, Sandburg? And no. I do not want to talk about that."

Blair spread his hands wide, palms up. "I was worried. One minute, you're reading the mail; the next, you're bolting out the door without saying a thing. Besides, you just left it sitting there, on the table. How was I supposed to know you didn't want me to read it?"

Jim exhaled irritably, tossed back the rest of his Scotch, and motioned to the bartender for another. "It's not that I didn't want you to read it. It's just...I wasn't expecting it. I never thought Carolyn would get remarried."

"You've still got feelings for her, then?"

"No," Jim said firmly, shaking his head, "it's not that. I mean, sure, I like Caro, she's a great person," The bartender came over and put Jim's Scotch down on the table. He took a sip, rolled the glass slowly between his palms, took a deep breath. "It's just that...I don't like being reminded of my failings."

"Jim, just because you and Carolyn got divorced doesn't mean that you failed at being married," Blair protested. "It just means that it wasn't the right time or place, for either of you. There's two people involved in a relationship, you know - both of whom have to bear some responsibility for what happens."

"Oh, thanks, Chief," Jim said sarcastically, taking another sip of Scotch. "That come from your vast experience with relationships and marriage?

Blair opened his mouth as if he was going to make a retort, then closed it sharply. He sat back on the bench and focused on his beer bottle, picking at the label.

Christ, Ellison, that was a shitty thing to do, Jim thought. Rub it in his face that Naomi's never been married and he hasn't had a relationship that's lasted over three months. "Sorry," he said, trying to make amends. "I'm sorry, Chief. I'm just in a bad mood."

"S'okay," Blair said, but Jim could tell that it wasn't, since his attention remained on his beer bottle. After a long, awkward silence, Blair spoke. "So, are you gonna go?"

Jim nearly spit out the mouthful of Scotch he was savoring. "To the wedding?"

Blair rolled his eyes. "Yes, to the wedding."

"Good God, no!"

"Why not?"

"Carolyn's family never liked me much. They always felt that marrying a cop was beneath her - or maybe it was just marrying me." Jim glanced over at the announcement. "Her fiance's a doctor - they must be pleased," he said dryly. "Anyway, I can't think of a more unpleasant way to spend a weekend than sitting around letting my ex-in-laws take potshots at me."

Blair was still picking at the label on his bottle. "You could shake them up, give them a kind of kick in the pants," he said. There was an odd tone in his voice, Jim noticed.

"What do you mean?"

Blair looked up at him, his expression almost challenging. "You could take me as your date."

"No! No way, Sandburg." But even as he said it, Jim felt the corner of his mouth curling up in a smile at the thought of his ex-father-in-law's reaction. The man was a serious bigot. He'd be absolutely apoplectic at the thought of his daughter's ex-husband being gay. Jim looked up to see Blair grinning at him.

" want to do it, you know you do," Blair said, pointing at him.

"C'mon, Sandburg, that's just not right. Caro's a nice person, and a friend, and I'm not going to make a scene at her wedding just to get back at my former in-laws." But for some reason he couldn't stop smiling at the thought of it.

"Hey, hey, hey, I'm not talking about getting down and dirty on the dance floor or anything like that. If anyone asks, we tell the truth - we're just friends. But you know people will make insinuations regardless. Hell, they do now and we're not even trying." Jim opened his mouth to protest, but he couldn't think of anything to say. "C'mon, man," Blair pleaded. "It's in, what, two months? You can take some vacation time, and I'll be done with the semester, so we could take a few extra days, do some sightseeing - it'll be a nice break."

He's right, Jim thought, it would be a nice break. Maybe we can get some fishing in. "Okay, okay," he relented, unable to suppress a grin at the sight of Blair's happy face.

The church was pretty, Jim thought. A small, nondenominational affair, tucked away in an affluent residential neighborhood of San Francisco. The usher hadn't looked twice at he and Blair when they had walked in, just asked them whose side of the wedding party they were on, and then led them to one of the pews.

Jim looked around. There were a few people on their side of the church, but no one Jim recognized. Carolyn's family hadn't arrived yet.

He glanced over at Blair, who was leafing through one of the hymnals. Blair leaned over, about to make a comment to him, when music started playing. Jim looked up, surprised that the ceremony would start without the bride's parents present.

Carolyn came walking down the aisle of the church. She was wearing pants and a top, something flowing and black, with a long black duster-style coat in the same silky fabric. Jim was surprised at the departure from tradition, but he supposed that since this was her second marriage she could have things the way she wanted. She stopped in front of the minister and turned to look back at the entrance to the church.

The familiar strains of "Here Comes The Bride" floated over the congregation. Jim frowned, confused. Wasn't the bride already at the altar? The minister motioned everyone to stand, and as Jim did he turned to look back. A figure in white was processing slowly up the aisle. He heard Blair's sharp intake of breath, felt his own mouth drop open as the person passed them.

Dr. Terry Poole was a woman.

Jim stretched his legs under the table, pleasantly full and feeling surprisingly mellow. It had been a very nice reception. Dinner had been good, the people at their table were friendly, and Blair had been in his element, telling stories at a mile a minute, eyes sparkling, hands waving in the air. Currently he was out on the dance floor, dancing with Carolyn's sister, after a futile attempt to get Jim to join in.

Carolyn appeared and sank into the chair at Jim's side. He turned to look at her and she gave him a wry smile. "I didn't intend to surprise you - I was going to call you and tell you about Terry...but I just never got up the nerve. And I didn't think you'd come, really."

He smiled a bit sheepishly. "I wasn't going to, but Sandburg talked me into it. Plus, I figured it would probably be the last chance I'd have to piss off your father." He gave her a questioning look.

She sighed. "When I told him I was marrying Terry, he cut me off. Refused to come to the wedding. Said...well, I won't repeat what he said. It wasn't nice." She looked sad, and Jim reached over and squeezed her shoulder gently.

"You look very happy," he offered, by way of comfort. It must have worked, because she gave him a brilliant smile, brighter than any he'd seen while they had been married.

"I am," she said quietly. The DJ started a slow song, and Carolyn stood and put her hand out. "Come on, Jimmy," she said, "a dance, for old times sake?"

He groaned, but put his hand in hers and allowed himself to be led to the dance floor. "You do remember that you practically had to force me to dance with you at our wedding, right?" he asked, pulling her smoothly into his arms.

"I remember," she said, smiling. "I guess that's one area Blair hasn't been able to work his magic on yet." At his raised eyebrows, she elaborated, "You've changed a lot since you met him. You're more...laid back, more relaxed, easier to get along with." She looked up at him teasingly. "If I didn't know you better, I'd say you were happy."

Jim chuckled. "Maybe just mellowing with age." Although he couldn't deny that most things in his life had substantially improved since he had met Blair. He glanced up to find Blair and saw him standing at the bar, talking animatedly to a woman. He grinned. Carolyn looked up at him quizzically, and he said, "Sandburg. Chasing a skirt, as usual."

They moved slowly around the edges of the dance floor. "Caro," Jim began hesitantly, "when did you know...I mean, when we were married, did you know...was that why..."

She stopped him with a finger on his mouth. "No, Jimmy," she said, "I wasn't ever interested in anyone else - man or woman - when we were married." She shrugged. "And I don't know that I know anything now. I realized how I felt about Terry about three months after I met her. I don't really think of myself as being gay, I think of myself as being in love with a woman."

He gave her a puzzled look. "Isn't that the same thing?"

Carolyn smiled. "I don't know, Jimmy. I know I was once in love with and married to a man, and now I'm in love with and married to a woman. I don't know what category that puts me in, and I don't really care. All that matters to me is that I feel closer to Terry than I have to anyone else in my life. When I realized that, when I realized that I loved her, it seemed stupid to let a little thing like gender stand in the way."

He still wasn't sure it made sense, but he smiled at her. "I'm really happy for you, Carolyn. For you both." He looked up, searching for Blair again, and found him still at the bar, now talking to a young man. "Caro, who's that guy Blair's talking to?" he asked.

She looked over at the bar. "Oh, that's Terry's brother, Josh," she said.

Jim turned her so he could watch the two men at the bar. Something about Josh made him wary. He watched him say something to Blair; watched Blair laugh in response; watched Josh lean in to reply, placing his hand on Blair's arm...hell, the guy was flirting with Blair!

A sudden fury gripped Jim. He stalked over to the bar and got between the two men, putting a hand on Josh's chest and pushing him backwards a few steps. "Hey! Lay off!" he heard himself growl.

Josh put his hands up in surrender, eyes wide. "Hey, man, I'm sorry. I didn't realize he was taken. No harm, no foul, huh?"

Before Jim could reply, Blair had him by the elbow and was pulling him out of the ballroom and around the corner into a secluded corridor. "What the hell is wrong with you, man?" he asked. "Josh and I were just talking, and suddenly you're in, like, full Blessed Protector mode."

"He was flirting with you," Jim snarled.

Blair's expression suddenly became guarded. "And why do you care who I flirt with?" he said, in a low voice.

'Who I flirt with', Jim thought, not `who flirts with me'. He felt a sudden overpowering rush of jealousy. Why do I care? he wondered. Now that the anger was beginning to ebb he felt lost and confused, like the earth had turned to quicksand under his feet. He didn't understand why he was reacting like this. He had been dancing with Carolyn, and they were talking ...and then, like a compass needle finding true north, everything suddenly snapped into place. "Because you're mine," he said roughly.

Blair stared at him, suddenly pale, mouth open. "Wh...what?"

Jim didn't answer, just stepped forward and put his hands on Blair's shoulders. He bent his head and kissed Blair gently, just a slow brush of his mouth across Blair's. He felt Blair's lips tremble under his and drew back to look at him.

"This isn't a joke to me," Blair said hoarsely, his eyes never leaving Jim's face.

"I'm not laughing," Jim assured him, and bent to kiss him again.

The kiss was a little rougher this time, and deeper, and when Blair's mouth parted Jim slipped his tongue inside to taste him. He was nearly overwhelmed by a flood of sensation; wine, salad, chicken, cake, but underneath it all the slightly sweet, slightly spicy taste that he knew somehow was uniquely Blair's. It made him ravenous, and he couldn't get enough of it, his tongue stroking again and again inside Blair's mouth. He was dimly aware that Blair's hands were clenched into fists in the lapels of his jacket; and that his hands had slid up to frame Blair's face, his fingers wrapped in Blair's springy curls.

He heard one of the hotel kitchen staff approaching with a cart and regretfully broke the kiss. Blair swayed, his hold on Jim's jacket tightening. His eyes were glazed, the pupils so dilated they looked black. His mouth was swollen. "God...Jim..." he whispered.

Jim couldn't stop himself from rubbing his thumb across Blair's lower lip. Blair shivered, and it took all of Jim's willpower not to kiss him again. "Someone's coming, Chief," he said, "I think we'd better take this upstairs."

"Upstairs...yeah, right, okay..." Blair said, looking like he was trying to remember how to walk. Jim slung an arm around his shoulders; he felt Blair's arm wrap around his waist. Unsteadily they made their way towards the elevators.

The phone shrilled in the early morning quiet. Jim grabbed it as fast as he could, but the damage had already been done, as the sturdy body sprawled across his shifted and muttered. "Hello?" he said.

"Hi, Jimmy, it's Carolyn."

"Hi, Caro," he replied. Blair raised his head and blinked at him sleepily, then gave him a radiant smile. Jim reached out and tousled his head lovingly. "What's up?"

"Well, I wanted to make sure that you and Blair were okay. You guys disappeared pretty quickly last night. Did you get everything straightened out?" Jim didn't miss the amusement in her voice.

"In a manner of speaking," he said, chuckling. Blair yawned, swung his legs over the edge of the bed, and made his way into the bathroom. "You were right. It would be stupid to let a little thing like gender get in the way."

"I'm really glad to hear you say that, Jimmy," she said happily. "Terry and I wanted to invite you and Blair over for lunch today, before you take off for the Sierras. Say around noon?"

"That'd be great, Caro, thanks." He wrote the address down. "We'll see you then." He hung up the phone and lay back on the bed, smiling as he listened to Blair brush his teeth. The world might have shifted 180 degrees since yesterday, but he knew where his true north was, and he'd never be lost again.


True North by PsychGirl:
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Disclaimer: The Sentinel is owned etc. by Pet Fly, Inc. These pages and the stories on them are not meant to infringe on, nor are they endorsed by, Pet Fly, Inc. and Paramount.