Jim hated himself. He hated that he was such a warm, generous, giving person. He hated his self sacrifice, his noble suffering. He wanted the selfish son-of-a-bitch who growled at anyone who invaded his personal space back. He wanted the man who took what he wanted, and consequences be damned.
He wanted the doors to disappear.
He'd put them up on a whim. It had struck him that Blair had lived there for two years with just a thin curtain separating their private lives. It had seemed wrong. And he couldn't help but feel bad that the heat simply didn't stay in the room during the night. He didn't lie when he said he
could hear Blair's teeth chattering.
And for the past four weeks, Jim couldn't hear Blair's teeth chatter. That was good. But he also couldn't see anything else. If he strained, he could still hear the sound of Blair sleep, his breath, his heartbeat, his mumbling, the way his feet kicked off the covers or scrunched up depending on the heat. Even the muffled pants as he jerked off at night.
But the thing was, Jim couldn't *see* anything.
Before, it was like a never-ending strip tease. A flash of bare skin as Blair changed his shirt. A sliver of hair as he was bundled amongst his covers. The brief glimpse of naked flesh as he snuck into bed. Jim was treated to an endless stream of tantalizing sights; Blair sucking on the
end of his pencil as he struggled to put to words the amazing jumble of thoughts and insights that bounced about in his head; Blair sitting cross-legged on the rug on the floor, meditating to calm the inner torment that sometimes afflicted his gentle soul.
The doors kept that from him. The doors locked away the intimate moments he had come to treasure. In some ways, it was of course selfish to have such a desire to spy on his roommate. In some ways though, it was almost like a payment for the goldfish bowl his life had become since agreeing to be Blair's subject for his thesis: observer becomes the observed. Payback.
But it was more than that. Jim didn't want to just look anymore. Or hear. He wanted to touch, to taste. And it scared him. He had never wanted to immerse himself in another person before -- let alone another man. Was he gay? Bisexual? He had no idea. And in some ways, he didn't care. When Blair left the doors open and Jim was allowed to partake of the visual bounty, none of it mattered. The attraction was undeniable.
So he faced a difficult question: was what he felt deep friendship, lust, or love?
He ruled out friendship, even a deep, soul-binding one. The tightening of his jeans, the wet-dreams, they all pointed past friendship. Which was good. Because friends simply didn't want to jump their friend's bones at all hours of the day, and particularly during the night.
Which left lust and love.
Having spent two years in the company of a scientist, one picks up certain tips: namely that if one has a choice between two theories, if one can positively eliminate one, it stands to reason that the other one is probably true. All it would take would be some experimentation.
So, with single-minded Sentinel stubbornness, Jim set out to discover which theory of the universe was correct: Jim Ellison was merely in lust after his partner, or Jim Ellison was deeply, madly, truly in love with his partner.
The first experimental opportunity arose when Blair, for some strange reason, amiably agreed to go to the gym with Jim. It might have been a blue moon, which Jim had on good authority -- namely Sandburg -- actually did occur occasionally as the pollution in the air refracted, altered,
changed the light in some way or another. It might have been the alignment of Mars, Jupiter, and Uranus. Or it might have been the comments which Jim knew Blair had overheard in the PD about Blair's stature, or lack thereof. Jim wasn't ruling out the cosmic forces.
So, they went to the gym. They sweated, they pumped iron, they jogged, bicycled, stretched and sweated some more. And then, they showered. Never uncomfortable with nudity, Jim was more than content with the communal showers. Blair, on the other hand, wore layers upon layers, and
Jim thoroughly expected him to duck into the more private showers. But to his surprise, and delight at the opportunity to test one thesis, Blair didn't. He simply grabbed his soap and shampoo, stripped to the buff and went to stand under the tap.
As the steam rose about his short, yet sturdy, body, Jim took the opportunity to watch. And imagine. Blair was oblivious to the covert glances, revelling in the heat and sensation of the water. The young man tilted his head up, the water slicking his hair back and trickling down
his back to split into small streams that curved around the mounds of his ass and down the crease between his cheeks. He smoothed soap generously over his skin, working into a creamy lather before rinsing it off, hands gliding over slick skin.
Jim cranked the cold water tap and stood beneath the freezing spray. So far, lust was looking pretty good.
The next opportunity arose and passed him by before he realized it was happening. It was a Saturday morning, one like any other. He slept in, relishing the break after two solid weeks of back breaking casework. When he awoke, the smell of coffee tantalized his nose, and he could hear the clink of metal against metal in the kitchen below.
Throwing on his robe and slipping his feet into his flip-flops, he padded his way downstairs. Blair was in the kitchen, hair pulled back to control the preshower fuzz that sent his hair into a halo of chaotic curls. Dressed in baggy sweat pants and one of Jim's department T-shirts, Blair
A mess. He looked like something the cat dragged in. Mussed, dishevelled, unkempt, tousled.
And when he saw Jim standing behind the kitchen island, he smiled and handed him a plate full of eggs (the ones with no yolks, no cholesterol), bacon (turkey, low fat), and a bagel (low-fat cream cheese carefully spread on the top).
"Morning, Jim. Thought you could use a pick-me-up breakfast, recharge all that energy and all. You've been working too hard. Oh yeah, I talked with Simon and managed to finagle his tickets to the JAGS in return for tutoring Daryl. Front row seats tonight, man!"
Jim smiled around a mouthful of bacon, which actually didn't even taste that bad. "Sounds good, Chief."
Lust didn't have a chance.