Fork in the Road
by Kira


Jim pounded at the keyboard of his computer in frustration.  The damn machine had eaten his report and he was close to throwing it out the window.

"Uh, hey, Jim."  Jim looked up to see Rafe standing by his shoulder, nervously twisting the fingers of one hand with the fingers of the other.

"Rafe." Jim didn't mean to growl.  Really, he didn't.  But the damn computer had eaten his report.  All ten painstaking pages of it.

"Can...can I ask you a question?"

"Mmph."  Jim grunted.

Rafe took that as a 'yes'.  "Are you and Blair...you know...," he trailed off expectantly.

Jim stared up at him blankly.  "Are we what?"

"You know..." Rafe urged, gesturing expansively with his hands.

Jim ground his teeth, "No.  I don't know."

"A..."Rafe took a deep breath.  "AreyouandBlairacouple?"

Jim blinked.  Then when he managed to translate the hastily blurted question, his brain kicked in.

"NO!!"

He wasn't sure what to expect, but it wasn't the look or relief and blinding smile that crossed Rafe's face.

"Really?"  His voice was filled with hope.

"Really!!!"  Jim hissed, glancing about the bullpen.  "What the hell kind of a question is that?"

"Well, it's just that you're roommates and all, and you're really close and I didn't want to move in on your territory or anything."  At Jim's glower, he pressed on.  "Not that Blair's your territory or anything, I just didn't want to ask Blair if you were already involved."

Jim felt lost, tossed adrift in a sea of confusion.

"Rafe.  What the hell are you talking about?"

The younger man ducked his head, blushing.  Jim blinked.  He was blushing!

"I...I wanted to ask Blair out."

"Out where?"

"Out out."  Rafe jerked his head in a 'you know' fashion.

"Oh."  Jim looked back to his computer.  "Well, good luck, then."

"You...you don't mind?"  Rafe's voice was a mixture of incredulity and gratitude.

"No, really.  Hope everything works out."

Rafe grinned from ear to ear as Jim pulled out another file.

"Now get out of here.  Some of us are working."

"Right.  Yeah.  Work."

Jim shook his head at the bounce in Rafe's step. *Kids.* "Oh...and Rafe?"

Rafe stopped in his tracks.  "Yeah?"

"Hurt him and you'll have to face me."

Jim grinned inwardly and settled back to typing in his report...again. Rafe slunk out of the bullpen swallowing nervously.  The keyboard clicked slowly as Jim poked out a description of his latest arrest.  He ignored the small voice inside which called out for him to feel the seeds of jealousy growing in his heart.

****

Blair tucked a curl behind his ear, trying to balance a pile of books on his hip while pressing the down button on the elevator.   He groaned inwardly at the thought of a boring evening.   Jim had to finish reports before tomorrow and, for once, Blair had managed to complete all his grading, essays and research projects.  Faced with free time, he wasn't sure what it was that he was going to do.

"Blair!  Let me help."  Hands were suddenly relieving him of his load.

"Oh, hey Rafe.  How's it going?"  Blair grinned up at the young detective.  He felt a certain affinity for Rafe, ever since it was revealed that they were about the same age, occupying the same uncertain space in the department hierarchy.  Having to prove himself as a cop, Rafe had confided in the one other person in the department who also felt the need to perform under the scrutiny of the higher ups, namely one particular anthropology observer.

"Great.  Thing are going great."  Rafe held open the elevator door for Blair to get in.  "Uh..Blair, I was wondering..."  He trailed off, and Blair could see that he was dying to ask the question, but for some reason looked like he was facing a firing squad.

"What?"  Blair grinned encouragingly.  With an audible inhalation for strength, Rafe seemed to screw up his courage.

"Would you like to go for a beer after work?"

"Sure, sounds like fun."

Rafe waffled, his hand going up to his hair.   "I was thinking maybe dinner, too."

Understanding flooded over Blair like a tsunami that moved across the sea.  His stomach fluttered suddenly.  "Oh!"

The sound of surprise in his voice must have been the sound of rejection, because the light in Rafe's eyes died.  Blair hastened to reassure him that the advance was more than welcome.

"I'd love to, really I would.  I've got to return these books to the library at the university.  Then I'll be free for the rest of the night.  Want to pick me up at my office at six?"

Hope sprung eternal of Rafe's face, a dopey grin crossing his features.  "Six sound good.  Great.  I'll be there."

The door 'pinged' as it reached the ground level.  Blair reached out and stroked a hand lightly down Rafe's arm.  The shiver the movement elicited from Rafe set Blair smiling.  "And Rafe?  I'm glad you asked."

He ducked out of the elevator and left the stunned detective staring at his back -- and if he knew his friend, his ass -- until the doors closed, spiriting him away, back up to the seventh floor.  Rafe might be the slick young detective out to prove himself to Major Crimes, but he had yet to venture into the world of Blair Sandburg.  Blair grinned, his feet feeling lighter than they had in quite a while.  It was going to be an interesting evening after all.
 
 


Finis

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