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You sass that hoopy Jim Ellison? Now there's a frood who know where his towel is.* -- The More Than Complete Hitchhikers Guide (uh, paraphrased )
First thing, I should have never told Simon what I was getting Jim for his birthday. There are things Simon understands or at least accepts, such as the existence of Jims senses. There are things Simon doesnt understand that would be how Jim and I can finish each others sentences. And then there are things Simon simply refuses to understand on the general principle that if he refuses to understand it, he doesnt have find a cubbyhole for it in his worldview.
We are all guilty of this to some extent. Which means I have to give Simon a free pass on understanding why I was consigning myself to Visa hell all for the purchase of two of those humongous bath sheets 800 grams of pure undyed Turkish cotton in each square meter. Pure, pristine Nazilla 84, straight from the Aegean region where the Meander meanders.
Simon can roll his eyes, but Jim is a practical sensualist. He gets transfixed over flannel. If nothing else, I know my sentinel.
Of course, now, Simon is apparently convinced I know my sentinel a little too intimately for his comfort. Guess somebody forgot to let me in on that knowing where to buy Turkish bath towels was part of the secret gay code. Okay, so Im not entirely straight. Its the rare individual thats 100% one way or the other. Hell, Id seen Jim look. Id even seen him flirt with a guy a couple of times. But I know my Jim, too, and with William Ellisons son it was solely a question of baggage. Kinsey didnt even enter into it.
And with Jim its not just *baggage*. Its a matching set of angst luggage. Hell, angst steamer trunks.
"Youre serious. Youre giving him towels."
Simon cant let go of this. Its like Ive done something utterly perverse. Like hes found Ive been keeping smutty pictures of bossy and the farm hand on the PD computer.
"Well, you know what Douglas Adams said about towels."
Simon frowns. Bet you twenty in a few minutes hell be running good old Dougs name through the Interpol database or something.
"Actually, Simon, I dont expect you to know what Douglas Adams says about towels. Just forget it. Write it off as another sentinel thing."
An eyebrow cocks. "*Youre* not a sentinel, Sandburg."
Its not that it *never* crossed my mind what Jim would look like wrapped up in a couple yards of Turkish terry. But I honestly got them solely with the mans overly sensitive fifty-touch-receptors-per-square-centimeter in mind.
Its not the package. I mean it is the package. But Id like to think that Id love Jim even if he was 5-foot-2 and rotund with Austin Powers teeth. Luckily the universe didnt test me that way. No, the universe tested me by giving me a not-quite-at-a-hundred-percent Kinsey score and a roomie with the body of a Greek god. Okay, definitely getting to be a *middle-aged* Greek god, but its really not the package.
I do love the guy.
As much as I can figure out above love Face it, Naomi loves everything. Shes so non-discriminating it took me a while to figure out love was a state most people dont constantly reside in. Of course, she loves in about fifteen-minute increments, but its still love. She just always sees something she loves just a little better, oh, say, about thirty miles up the road.
But, yeah, as best I can figure out -- I love Jim.
I love him so much, that I refuse to let him know. A guide protects his sentinel. Even from his guide
Towels are a private thing.
One, Im not having Simon looking down from six-four waiting to pick up the shattered pieces when Jim gets insulted at my perverse idea of a gift. Two, if as I think Jim finds Turkish towels as enticing as he found 630-count combed cotton, itll take me a while to get him out of the zone.
Jim hefts his package carefully and admires the hand-stamped wrapping paper that I doubt he would have even noticed two years ago. I think somewhere Simon is twitching nervously.
"Its not going to bite, Jim."
His gaze slides to me suspiciously.
My hands gesture placatingly. "Hey, I learned my lesson last year."
A corner of his mouth quirks up and he starts to slice through the tape. As he gets to the logod box Simons doubts come back home to roost and my heart rate spirals upward. Blue eyes narrow in concern.
"Completely inanimate," I reassure.
"Your pulse just doubled."
I shrug. "Simon thinks you wont like it."
"Simon doesnt know me." He looks at me with that damnable trust that makes me lightheaded. "You know me."
He frowns as my pulse rate moves to triple-time. I punch him lightly on the arm.
"Just *open* it."
I have to gently disentangle one of the bath sheets from Jim who is stroking it appreciatively, the guide in me taking over. "Dont get carried away."
Jim blushes faintly like he thinks towels from his best friends arent inappropriate, but enjoying petting them probably is.
"Why did Simon think I wouldnt like them?"
I probably shouldnt have mentioned that. "They were on his beyond-friendship list."
"You know. We all have these lists if whats appropriate. Towels are on Simons for-significant-other-only list. He thought if Id gotten you towels then that meant we were intimate."
"Chief, you know practically everything about me. I dont think you can get more intimate."
"Sexually intimate," I clarify willing my pulse rate to a steady seventy-two.
"Oh." Jim tilts his head and I move to distract him from my sudden tachycardia.
"I told him " I shake my head, trying to clear it. "I told him the truth."
"Clue me in here." Jim is way too focused on my vitals. "What truth would that be?"
"That were friends." I really didnt mean that to sound like a question. "The best."
Hes got that look. That pleased-with-himself, almost happy look that most people would get over the Officer of the Year award, or something. Oh no, Jim. Dont touch me. I really, really dont need you to touch me right now.
A warm, strong hand closes on mine. "So, you ever thought about anything more?"
"What?" I stammer.
"Brad Young came out last week, did you know that?"
"Brad Young? In K-9 patrol, right?"
Jim settles back and takes another sip of his wine. "Yep. And before he came out, you know what he did?"
I numbly shake my head.
"He came to talk to me, first. Wanted to know if Id found it difficult."
Im not following. "Found what difficult?"
"Being an openly gay cop."
"Jim youre straight."
"Thats what I told Young." Jim never broke from his casual pose but I could see the jaw muscles on isometric overtime. "He laughed and said I must be the most repressed queer bastard on Earth."
"Wait, I saw Brad yesterday. He was taking Keiko out for a hydrant stop." I ponder the incongruity. "So that means you didnt kill him?"
"I agreed he might be right." Blue eyes study me seriously. "So how come *you* never told me and I have to hear it from Brad Young?"
My mouth gapes open and closed like a pond kois.
"You knew, didnt you, Chief? You know everything."
"I " Jim Ellisons having a fucking life-changing-realization about his sexuality and its my fault for not telling him sooner? "So, youre just now figuring out youre, what, bi? Is that what youre saying?"
He appears to consider this. "Maybe. What do you think?"
"Me? What do *I* think. What I think is youve got baggage. Three bellboys worth of baggage. Im buried in fucking luggage here and you want to know if I think you could swing both ways? Are you nuts? You think Ive been looking at that barricade of American Touristers and wanting to go through it?"
"Well Ive been thinking about that the baggage stuff. Thinking that maybe its time to toss the luggage out." He waves Turkeys finest terry at me. "Now that my roommate was nice enough to get me a towel."
Im probably cross-eyed cause Jim is looking a little blurry and awfully close. "Huh?"
A strong grip encourages me to sit on the sofa. A warm body follows my path down to the cushions. One gentle hand wraps my head and leans me into a solid shoulder. The other warms my arm with a repeated caress.
"Well you know what the Hitchhikers Guide says about towels, dont ya, Chief? You really dont need anything else."
My nearly hysterical giggle brings warm lips and the soft puffs of Jims breath to my ear.
"*You* read the Hitchhikers Guide?"
Jim manages to look faintly insulted. "I know its not the same as the twenty-two years youve spent in college, Einstein, but I did manage a few semesters. I had ample opportunity to do all the usual stuff kill a few kegs, deflower a co-ed or two, read the Guide."
I cant stop laughing, hiccupping against Jims broad chest.
"I didnt mean it to be like this." Jim leans his forehead against the crown of my head. "I was going for romantic. I really was."
I huff helplessly.
"I can do romantic," protests Jim. "I just got distracted by the damn towel."
I bend almost double in his arms before some less juvenile part of me recognizes the real seriousness of the conversation.
"Jim, weve got to stop laughing about this. You cant just just "
"Jettison the whole load? Why not?"
"Were talking life-changing stuff here."
"Yeah," he agrees, draping you in terry. "But you know, any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the Galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through and still know where is towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with."
Im grinning and I cant help myself. Im on the sofa, in the arms of the man I love. Im wearing a towel. Okay, well Im wearing jeans, a tee, a flannel shirt and a towel, but still theres me and Jim and Jims got a towel. And a towel has immense psychological value. It friggin negates the need for luggage cause for some reason if a strag discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that is also in possession of a toothbrush, washcloth, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, ball of string
"Hey," I whisper. Jim lifts his face from where hes nuzzling into my neck. "You sass that hoopy Jim Ellison? Theres a frood who really knows where his towel is."
He bends toward me, his mouth exploring mine. His tongue flickers lightly against my hard palate. His teeth scrape my bottom lip ever so gingerly as Im sucked and tasted with a headiness that takes both our breath away.
Bet Arthur Dent never got kissed like that.
[From the helpful and friendly Hitchhikers Guide Dictionary: Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.]