Notes: Truth be told, this would be *my* dream come true. I'm pretty sure though that Blair would appreciate it, too. This is dedicated to all my fellow book junkies with Amazon wishlists longer than my arm...
Betad by Xasphie. Thank you!
Buying Shelves And Other Changes
Jim was getting curious.
It was ten in the morning on a Saturday, and Sandburg was once again sighing longingly over some website he'd opened up, what, half an hour ago? No wonder they said the internet could get you hooked. He was of course used to Blair using it as a means of research; he supposed that no academic these days could do without it -- but this was most strange.
He dialed up his vision enough to be able to see what Blair was seeing, from *way* across the room.
O-kay. Not that it was much of a surprise. Amazon.com was probably the web's Garden of Eden for a book junkie like Sandburg.
What was that? Wish lists. Right. Jim was beginning to see the problem. Book orders did arrive at the loft every now and then, but, not surprising, Blair was far from being able to afford the various items on the list. Or lists. More likely, lists.
Jim made a mental note to take a closer look later. He might not have been as talented around a computer as Blair was, but he was pretty sure he'd be able to turn up those lists on the 'net.
With another heart-wrenching sigh, Blair shut down the computer, getting up from the table. "I agreed to meet a student today," he announced. "Want to come later and have dinner with me?"
"Sure, Chief. Wait - on a Saturday? That student must really need it. Is it okay with the university that they don't even respect your weekend?"
Blair just shrugged at that. "I think so. Anyway - I'll call you."
"You do that."
As soon as Jim heard the Volvo's engine, he sat down where Blair had left the laptop on the table. "All right, baby," he addressed the computer. "You and I are going to have some fun now."
As he had predicted it was a matter of minutes until Jim encountered Blair Sandburg's Amazon.com wish lists. Jim took his time to look at each and every item, as they reflected something about his Guide, sometimes obvious, sometimes more subtle. Antropological textbooks, that was a given. Hell, those tomes cost a fortune!
Jim shook his head to himself. He'd never considered the kind of investment that would be required for an academic career these days... it made him, all of a sudden, feel guilty, thinking of times he'd teased Sandburg about his clothes, or had accepted a dinner invitation just because they played it tit for tat, which seemed fair between two guys living together. Sure, Jim did pay more, and took care of most of the bills, but still...
The job Blair did as his Guide was almost full-time, and he didn't get paid for it at all.
There was the Psychology section; just about everything covering human senses, and, surprisingly, anxiety disorders. Jim had to admit he had never taken that subject all too seriously, something he regretted now. Blair had mentioned his fear of heights, but he'd seemed to do just fine at climbing trees... There were a couple of more random subjects of interest.
Some books on life in the Seventies. Right, Sandburg would have an interest in his roots; that was just him.
That was where it just exploded - so many books, wanted and cherished, about tribes of the Amazon and a thousand different places, their customs, their mythology... closed societies... quite an amount of Criminal Science. Human Rights Publications.
Feminist Anthropology? Jim wondered if there was any ulterior motive behind it. A guy reading stuff like this would no doubt be popular with his female fellow TAs.
There was also a shorter list featuring some fiction; including some thrillers. A few by Ken Follett. Jim sat back in his chair and thought it would be nice to find the time, or make it, to sit down with a good book. Maybe the next vacation...
And then the idea struck him.
He was long overdue showing Blair some appreciation of the job he did, keeping Jim sane every day with his sometimes weird, but always invaluable ideas. Not such a big price in comparison...
It took only a few minutes more to create an account, place the order and hit the 'send' button.
Satisfied with himself, Jim deleted all his earlier activity from the cache. Perfect timing. The phone rang; Blair had just finished with the student and was ready for dinner.
Jim couldn't wait to see the look on his face.
He used to get impatient, sometimes unnerved, when Blair had announced a 'short' trip to a bookstore, that would most likely turn out to last a few hours. Sandburg was simply unable to resist the siren call, and how often had Jim found him in the reading corner, totally engrossed in another world?
As sloppy as he could be sometimes, he'd order a new copy if the one on the shelf had gone through too many hands already, bearing stains and creased spines. Now, the real ancient books to be found in special stores, were a different story. They had a history, like that Burton monograph. They lived.
And sometimes, in rare moments, Jim had admitted to himself he was almost jealous, of all the attention, interest and - yeah, tenderness. Right, like it was some big confession - not. He'd been harboring this crush on his roommate for a while now. It was comfortable, exciting, but essentially going nowhere.
Still, he was going to enjoy this.
It was a pity, Jim thought, he couldn't make *all* the books arrive on the same day, because some of them had been purchased via marketplace vendors, some of them extremely overpriced, since rare, others for a few cents.
Over the next few days he had tried to catch those stray packages before Blair, until the big day arrived. Jim had told Simon he'd need a day off in order to arrange a surprise for Blair, and that wasn't even a lie.
"Just leave it by the door, I will..."
Blair let his words trail off as the postman entered the loft with a pushcart. "You better leave the door open, there's more."
"Hm," Jim heard him mutter. "This can't be right. Jim! I think somebody's been playing a joke on us."
Jim joined him from where he'd been preparing pancakes in the kitchen, spoon still in hand. "It's all right," he said to the postman, who looked uncertain and slightly unnerved. The packages, small and bigger ones, were being stacked on top of each other, while Jim was aware of Blair's quizzical look. Poor guy, he was probably trying to figure out what kind of Sentinel weirdness had made Jim go on this ordering binge.
"Amazon, Jim? What is all this?"
The hell he wouldn't try and start to explain as long as the front door was still wide open... no way, Chief.
Finally, the postman had left, in a better mood after Jim had given him a generous tip.
"Okay now. Why don't you open them. They're all yours."
For an instant, Jim was slightly worried that Blair would faint at the revelation.
"But-- this-- is... I don't know what to say."
"You don't have to say anything. Just go open them."
"But Jim, this is crazy. I-- I can't accept this. It's not even my birthday - no scratch that, this would be stuff for the next twenty years."
And this is exactly where I want you to be then, in twenty years, here with me. Jim gripped Blair's shoulders and gently turned him towards the several stacks again.
"Go. Take a look."
After hesitating another second or so, Blair picked up the first parcel and began to open it. It was one of the smaller, lighter ones. Problably containing the fiction; and suddenly Jim was grateful about that, because it was easier to say, "Hey, I hoped you'd lend me that, too," than to really come clean about this crazy idea.
And right, a couple or weeks worth of Ken Follett reading.
"Hey, cool. I've wanted these for a while, but..."
"Yeah, I know. So many other things to read. So go on. I want to know if I did it all right."
"How did you know anyway?" Blair obviously didn't expect an answer, as he kneeled in the midst of the piles. A man who had found heaven.
Jim felt the silly grin spread on his face at the sight.
One by one, Blair opened the packages, revealing shiny new books that had only gone through the hands of people who had packed them up for sending. Never been read. And other ones, worn with time, books that had stories to tell.
Watching, Jim had an idea of what it'd feel like to be obsessed, but what's more, he loved to see that expression of pure joy on Blair's face, knowing he'd basically caused it.
"Do you like them?" he asked, rhetorically.
"Do I... man. Why?"
Jim almost hoped that the question was also rhetorical, and maybe he could have gotten away with it. It was likely, considering the look on Blair's face. He was probably ready to sit down in this mess of stacks and cartons and start reading.
But did he want to get away with it?
Jim sat down next to a couple of psychoanalytical texts. "You know, I love to see you smile."
Blair looked up at him, his expression happy and serene, but strangely... not surprised.
"I wouldn't have expected you to express this in roughly $3000 worth of books. This is... it's a dream come true, but it's still way too much."
So he wasn't bolting even with all those implications dancing between them; a good sign. Jim reachd out to tuck a stray curl behind Blair's ear, hand lingering on his cheek, feeling the warmth of a faint blush. No protest though.
"If I had to pay you for what you do for me on a daily basis, this would only be a small part of it. But that's not it."
"All right, Jim." There was mischief dancing in Blair's eyes, and Jim only had that moment to prepare himself before Blar leaned forward to kiss him. Not nearly long enough before he pulled back and asked, "Is that it?"
Jim pulled him back to him again a little too enthusiastically, making one of the stacks slip and they were almost hit by a serious-looking Freud, which made them crack up with laughter. Kissing again, almost horizontal on the floor, Jim thought giddily that it was the best idea he'd had in a long time, especially with Blair whispering to him how crazy he was, and that he could have had this without buying a library.
"I know, I know. But it's worth it. You're worth it."
Blair's eyes turned a little bright at that. "You crazy fool," he said. "It's not like I'm doing that much."
Jim would convince him otherwise, and he would take his time with that. Not on the loft living room floor, though.
"We'll see about that. First, we've got a problem here - we definitely need new shelves."
"You are thinking of shelves - now?" A warm hand trailing down his chest made him shiver, and more blood rushing south.
"No. I'm thinking about what we're going to do once we're home again. I'm thinking about being in the store and... imagining you naked."
Blair shook his head at him, but the increased heart rate and other reactions of his body Jim wouldn't have missed even if he wasn't a Sentinel, told a different tale. Jim tightened his arms for a moment, the thought springing to mind that this was really like something out of a book, a Burton tale of Sentinel and Guide, too good too be true.
"I still think you're crazy," Blair told him, all relaxed and happy in his arms, and it had nothing to do - well, not much anymore - with the dozens of books on the floor around them.
They browsed the aisles lazily, casually holding hands. "You better pick that bigger one," Jim advised. "There'll be more."
Sharing a private smile with Blair who slightly blushed as if reading what exactly was on his mind, Jim did exactly what he'd predicted, imagined what would happen once they'd put all the books away and devoted time to the changes that had taken place.
Blair could now delete all those wishlists.
The most important one had come true for both of them.