Written for the Give&TakeTS challenge 07/08.

Prompt by Lyn:"We all know that Blair obfuscates, but this time he's lied. What did he lie about? How did Jim find out? Does it change their relationship?"

Betaed by Xasphie.

Small Distortions of the Truth

By Demeter

EMAIL: Demeter

"Leave it, I can grant you she isn't your type."

Blair comments on the look Jim is giving the tall red-head who is leaving Blair's office as Jim arrives. He knows it isn't serious, but needs to crack the joke anyway, a little diversion from the fact that his heart is beating fast. He didn't want them to meet, but hey, it could have been worse. He doesn't think Jim has picked up anything from her - not with the way he smiles at Blair now, shaking his head.

"Right. You know who's my type, Chief, don't you?"

There is that.

Blair gets up from behind his desk, walking around it, and he lets himself be pulled close, engaged in a kiss that almost makes him forget. So many changes... Good ones, he has to admit, his heartbeat now quickening again not due to guilty conscience, but the way Jim is touching him,in this slow, deliberate way that would lead to more if only it wasn't noon and they weren't here at the office.

When they finally part, he's trembling, and so is his voice when he asks, "So what are you doing here?" It doesn't come out right; the traces of guilt still lingering, but then again, he's flushed and breathing hard, so Jim doesn't mind.

"Taking you out for lunch? I've got the rest of the day off. Thought you could maybe skip a class or two."

Blair shakes his head. As much as he wants to, he can't juggle his time the way he could before, with these new developments. Edwards is watching him, he knows it, ever since he started working with Lauren. They won't cut him any more slack. Besides, Lauren will be back this afternoon, and much as he wants to spend the day with Jim, he needs to be there. She needs him. And Blair needs to have that corner of his life, this secret, even from the man he loves.

He's walking a fine line, and he knows it.

"I'm sorry, I can't. I'll be tied up here 'til six, at least."

Jim's disappointment shows on his face, but only for a moment. A brave man, Blair thinks, finds himself silly, but he leans forward for another embrace. "I'm sorry," he whispers. "I'll make it up to you tonight."

And he will, though that pang of guilt is not easily ignored. It's easier when his two worlds don't overlap. Jim now produces a basket he's left standing by the door. "I was afraid you'd say that, so I took precautions," he admits. "Can't have you going without lunch, and I know you would."

He reaches up a hand and lets it trail down Blair's face in a tender gesture. "You need to keep up your strength," he says with a hint of lewd, and Blair gives him a grin for that.

A picnic at the office. He can do that. It's two and a half hours until Lauren will be back.

***

"You can do it. Now concentrate."

"Right back at you," she says dryly, tossing her long red hair over her shoulder, and Blair has to admit defeat. "Now she's psychic, too," he mutters, well aware that she can hear him perfectly.

It isn't normally like that. Lauren loves experimenting, using her senses, testing her boundaries. Of course. She first came online during a camping trip with her parents at the age of six. There was solitude - but no trauma. At least not to her.

Blair had collected old newspaper clippings, printed off from the internet, of how the young girl had mysteriously found the location of a kidnapped boy, not much younger than her. She had been shown appreciation and given support throughout her youth, and when she came to see Blair for the first time, it was out of curiosity, not because something was wrong. Lauren was a proud Sentinel. She was practically his dream come true. A publication of their work together? "If there's a movie, I want Angelina to play me."

Blair had felt sick at her words. But anyway, they started to do some tests and documentation, and all of this often enough feels like a hallucination, because the dissertation he's writing, on the Thin Blue Line, has of course nothing to do with the hours he puts in to help fine-tune her senses.

"Sorry. Maybe we should do this another day."

She sighs. "Why don't you just tell him?"

There is a moment of pure, unadulterated panic at that thought.

He can't. No, Blair knows that isn't entirely true, but he doesn't want to. Maybe it's childish. In any case, it's dangerous not to tell, given what happened with Alex. Alex, however, is also one of the main reasons why Blair doesn't talk to Jim about Lauren.

It's gone way too far anyway, and Blair doesn't want to lose either part of this - being a teacher, a Guide to a Sentinel who enthusiastically embraces her gift - and knowing he'll be going home to Jim tonight, making love in a way that still feels slightly unreal, because he'd been dreaming of it for so long.

"Okay, okay." Lauren holds up her hands. "I get it, none of my business. I just think you need a break. And frankly, the same applies to me. The day after tomorrow as planned?"

"Sure," he says.

***

Obfuscating isn't the same as lying, Jim can buy that. Or he could, at least, before Blair had really lied to him. But now he can't say anything about it, because Jim also lied. He found out about Lauren being a Sentinel, very early on, and has been waiting patiently ever since, but Blair won't talk about her, won't tell him what she is, not even since they have become lovers.

So, when they're together, they both try to deny that she exists, try to deny everything but the world they've built for themselves, with all its secrets.

He pulls Blair closer to him, enjoying the feel of warm skin against his. No, he wouldn't give this up for anything in the world. On the whole, he's very happy. Loving Blair Sandburg is so much better than Jim could have ever imagined - and hasn't he always known that everything comes with a price?

They have both mastered denial. Since they came back from Mexico, they have never talked about Alex. The dissertation and what's come out of it? What's to say?

Jim knows that Blair is spending too much time with Lauren; he overheard a conversation between Dr. Stoddard and Chancellor Edwards, about how close Blair really is to getting kicked out for good. It's just that Jim can't tell him, because he'd have to admit he knows about Lauren too.

Still half asleep, Blair snuggles closer. So trusting. Really, you could come to the conclusion that this lie between them doesn't matter much, because they still ended up this way. Slowly, gently, he kisses Blair awake, his mind still on the red-headed woman and the knowing look she had given him.

//I don't get you, Chief. How can you be so naive to think I wouldn't notice - or she?//

The good news is that Lauren is not a criminal like Alex; Jim has run a background check on her and come up empty. It doesn't look like she wants a Guide, either, just information. If that ever changes... let's just say, Jim wouldn't be so ready to keep his silence then.

Because he has sworn to himself to never let go again. Whatever it takes.

"Hey," Blair says, smiling. "What are you thinking?"

Jim, vaguely prepared for that question, wants to crack a joke, something playful, but all of a sudden there's this hollow fear in his gut that makes the words vanish into nothing; he can't think of a clever retort now, and what's worse, Blair has caught up on his strange state. He's sitting up now, aware, looking at Jim worriedly.

"Are you okay, man?"

"I'm fine." He's trying hard not to snap - //what the hell are you thinking?// - and manages, barely. So Lauren might not be interested in 'til-death-do-us-part'; that's a relief. But what about Blair?

"You haven't been badgering me for tests for quite some time."

Blair leans over to touch Jim's forehead, smiling. "And you're complaining? There must be something wrong with you."

Right, maybe it's the fact that he wants to say the magic words so badly, even before they ended up in bed after a Rafe's bachelor party. The right occasion; a co-worker about to get married, men getting together to get silly and to think about what will happen with the rest of their lives.

Jim is quite sure that there's a silly grin on his face now as he remembers the two of them in the lobby of Rafe's apartment building, waiting for Henri Brown who'd been the designated driver for the night.

"What's taking them so long, man. I'm freezing," Blair had complained.

Jim knows he can't really blame it on the alcohol, because none of them had had that much to drink - but then there was the thought, //hey, I know something to warm you up, Chief.// And he'd probably said it out loud, because Blair looked at him, understanding dawning, his eyes wide, and that was enough; Jim had stepped forward and kissed him, very much encouraged by the enthusiastic response...

... only moments later, the elevator's doors had slid open, revealing H and Simon. They'd parted so quickly it had caused Jim a head rush, and Blair to stumble slightly, so for the rest of the drive, their friends were snickering about men who couldn't hold their liquor, and advised Jim to 'make sure the kid gets to bed safely'.

"I will," Jim had promised with a smirk, while he and Blair sat in the backseat, holding hands under their coats.

That was two weeks after Lauren had come to see Blair for the first time. "Nothing wrong," Jim says now, picking up the thread of their conversation. "I just thought you might... never mind. It's okay if you don't want to, I mean, tests, they only made sense when you were still writing that dissertation, right?"

"I want you to be safe when you're out in the field. Because I love you. That doesn't have anything to do with any dissertation."

"I know. I'm sorry." Jim is skeetering on the edge of a revelation here, //I love you, too, so much, so why can't you give her up for me?// - but he draws back at the last moment. They close the distance between them again. Maybe really everything is going to be all right in the end; and no one has really lied after all, have they?

Jim has also learned, listening in on Stoddard and Edwards, that they're going to send Lauren on a 6-month-expedition to Brazil, something that Blair doesn't yet know.

The world will right itself once again. What else are some more things unsaid? - just small distortions of the truth, hardly noticeable in time.

The End