Warning: This story could be construed as having to do with slash or a gay lifestyle. It does not portray Jim and Blair or any other character as being in a gay relationship but rather the judgement that is made by one person and the damage it can cause to the most vulnerable.
This story is the second in the Tough Little Boys. Occurs about four weeks later.
Tough Little Boys can be found at http://brothersinarms.tvheaven.com
This story is in no way meant to infringe on any copyright laws. I claim no ownership to any characters in this story except for Sigh. She does belong to me.
Warning Kid Fic.
Blair sighed as he looked around the bullpen. It was quiet in here today as most of the detectives were out on cases. Jim was currently assigned to Juvenile working on a case involving a child prostitution ring, and Blair had just wrapped up his last case so he was at a loose end for the rest of the day. Hopefully this juvie case would break soon. Occasionally they worked on separate cases, but neither one of them liked it. There were too many ties between them as Sentinel and Guide, partners, friends, and now co-parents of a four-year-old girl. Jim had insisted that Blair be added as an adopted parent so that Sigh would have the security of having both of them be there for her.
The phone rang suddenly, bringing Blair back to the present.
"Sandburg," he spoke into the phone
"Hey, Chief, did I catch you napping?" Jim's voice teased.
"Of course not," Blair protested "How do you even know that I am sleepy. You can't see me, can you?"
"No," Jim chuckled, "you just have that slightly dazed, bored out of your mind sound in your voice."
"Cool, you mean you can actually tell if I am sleepy or bored by my voice? What else can you do?"
"Down, boy," Jim laughed, "this is not testing material here."
"Well, we will just have to see about that," Blair said in a teacher mode voice. "I have ways of bending you to my will."
"Yeah, well, dream on, guppy."
"What did you call about anyway?"
"Oh, yeah. Listen we are going to be a couple hours late. Could you pick up Sigh from her day camp tonight?"
"Sure, no problem, what time do you think that you will be home?"
"Probably in a couple of hours, go ahead and eat without me. We are ordering sandwiches in so we can go over the evidence we have and determine out next move. Give Sigh a hug for me."
'Well, you do know you will be in the doghouse if you are not home by story time. It's written in the law book of Sigh, that is one of the most important of her laws."
"Yeah, I know. I'll be reading her three stories a night for a week to make up for it."
"Yeah, and you'll love every minute of it."
"That is true. Gotta go."
"Okay, see ya later."
Blair gathered up all of his belongings and decided to stop and pick up Sigh a couple of hours early. They had only had her there for a couple of weeks and while they had done background checks on the employees and checked with other families, they had not made any unannounced visits.
Blair got out of the jeep at the local school where the day camp was being held. This was the second week of the summer long art program they had Sigh attending. The little girl loved art and it had seemed like a better program than just regular day care. As he walked toward the building, he looked around at the playground where some children playing. He smiled at the bright pictures taped to the windows and wondered if one of them was Sigh's. As he walked into the building, he checked into the office first and then made his way to the art room that Sigh was assigned to. Blair loved the way the building was kept. It was very clean and bright with children's pictures on the wall, and it smelled like paint and clay, not overwhelming cleaning supplies. He stopped at a wall of pictures and noticed one by his daughter. He frowned slightly. This was not the same as other pictures that she had drawn. This one had a dark sky, and many children drawn on it in a group and one curly haired girl off on her own. He wondered if there had been a problem that they had not been told about.
He knocked quietly on the door and then opened it into the bright and cheerful room. There were groups of children working on several activities. Some were painting, some were using clay, and other were making pictures out of a variety of supplies. Blair looked around the room and did not see Sigh. As he turned to look for the teacher, he saw his daughter sitting in a chair against the wall, with her head bowed, looking tired and hot. Her hair was not in the neat braids they had put it in this morning and her shirt was torn and her knee skinned. He started to walk over to her when a teacher's aide stopped him.
"Excuse me, can I help you?"
"Hi, I'm Blair Sandburg and I'm here to pick up my niece."
"Oh, you mean Sigh."
"Yes, can you explain to me why she is sitting alone and has apparently been crying?"
"Well, she is on a time out since she hit a boy at lunch."
"She hit a boy?"
"Yes, she did."
"I don't know?"
"Did you ask her?" Blair replied, getting more frustrated the longer the inane conversation went on.
"No, it really doesn't matter. Hitting is not allowed."
"It is now three o clock and lunch is at 11:30, have you made her sit there that long?"
"Well, yes, because she won't apologize."
"That is over three and a half hours for a four year old. This is completely unacceptable. Where is her regular teacher?"
"She is not here today. I am running this class."
"And you are ?"
"How long have you been here, Summer?"
"Fine. I am going to take her home now."
"Well, she needs to apologize before she is allowed back to the program. We will not tolerate unacceptable behavior from a child, especially a child like her."
"Child like her?" Blair asked in a quiet voice ~lady, you had better be glad you are dealing with me and not Jim ~ he thought to himself.
"Yes, just because you and you "partner", Summer retorted, making little quote marks with her fingers, "choose to live an alternate lifestyle, does not mean we will overlook bad behavior."
"Lady, I don't know what you are talking about. My partner, as you put it, and I are detectives on the police force. We are not gay. However, even if we were your treatment of her is completely unacceptable. I am taking her home now and one of us will be back to discuss this tomorrow."
Blair walked over to the chair Sigh was sitting in, still staring at the floor.
"Hey, princess," he said softly, "looks like you had a rough day."
Sigh looked at him and Blair's heart broke at the sight of the tears in her eyes, the streaks down her face and the hitched breathing that told him she had been crying for a long time.
"Ah, sweetie," he said softly, picking her up in his arms, "let's go home."
Sigh threw her arms around his neck and started sobbing again, the tears not that of an angry child, but one who was totally desolate.
As he headed toward the wall to get Sigh's backpack and lunchbox, the aide came up to them.
"Sigh, I hope you can apologize tomorrow so you can come back to class," she said in the syrupy sweet voice that adults use when they are trying to convince a child of something.
"You need to just shut up," Blair hissed, "before I say or do something you will regret. Believe me, this is not over."
He grabbed the lunch box, shaking his head when he realized that her lunch was still in there. He walked out the door, carrying the still sobbing child.
"Shhh, little one, I got ya," he whispered softly.
Sigh's response was to just hold on tighter and cry harder.
Blair was afraid she was going to be sick if he did not get her to calm down. Looking around the yard, he saw that there was a big shade tree at the back of the yard and no other kids were outside. He walked over, sat down in the shade, and kept murmuring reassurances to the little girl. "It's okay, baby, it's okay. I love you and nobody is going to do this again, sweetheart."
When he heard her sobs starting to lessen, he opened her lunch and got out the juice bottle that was still full and cold and opened it.
"Try to drink some of this, baby," he coaxed softly. Sigh took a couple of sips and threw her arms around his neck again, her breath hitching but no tears coming.
"Let's go home, little one. It will be okay, I promise."
"I no want to go here no more," Sigh whispered softly
"Okay, sweetie, if that is what you want, we will talk about it later, okay? How about we stop and pick up Chinese for dinner, okay?"
Sigh nodded and Blair got up and headed for the truck. Once he got there, he put her in the car seat and pulled down the shade blinds on the side of the car. "Here is your juice, how 'bout you try to drink a little more, okay?"
Sigh took the bottle and laid her head back against the seat.
Blair got into the truck and started up the street. Before he had gone a block Sigh was asleep and Blair grabbed the bottle just before it spilled all over the seat.
He stopped and picked up some Chinese food even though he doubted that anybody would eat much of it.
Blair, juggling the bags and Sigh, sighed with relief when there was no out of order sign on the elevator. "You may be only four but you sure are heavy," he said softly to the sleeping child.
Once in the apartment Blair went to lay Sigh on the couch but even in her sleep, she would not let go of him. Getting back up, he put the bag of food in the fridge and then moved down into her room and sat down on the rocking chair with her. Looking around the room, he remembered the look on Sigh's face when she saw her room for the first time.
Jim and Blair had been concerned that the room they had fixed for Sigh was going to be disappointing to her. They knew that her birth parents had a lot of money and that her room had been much fancier than anything they could provide, or wanted to provide. It had turned out that it was of no importance to her.
She had walked into the room and looked around. The room was decorated in soothing, calm earth tones and one wall held a bookshelf filled with stuffed animals and storybooks. Next to the shelf was a comfortable rocking chair and a lamp that flooded the room with soft light. The room had a small canopy bed that Blair had found at a garage sale. They had sanded the wood and refinished it until it shone. The small comforter and canopy were a light green and had pictures of rainbows and small animals on it. Blair had gotten a friend of his to do a picture to hang on the wall over the childs bed. It had a baby wolf and a baby panther playing in a fairy ring with other small animals watching them. Sigh looked around the room with big eyes that were filled with wonder. When she saw the child easel in the corner of the room with a table filled with paints, and markers and crayons on it, she turned to Jim and Blair with a look of shock on her face. "Is this mine?" she whispered.
"Of course, it is." Jim smiled
"I mean, can I actually play with this stuff, like I can make pictures and paint, and play with the animals and and . She was so excited that her words would not come out, and all of a sudden, she had burst into tears. Jim and Blair looked at each other with concern. Blair walked over to the little girl and knelt down to talk to her.
"Sigh, if you don't like it, honey, we can fix it."
"No, I love it; I never had a room like this before."
"What do you mean?" Jim queried as he sat on the floor and pulled Sigh into his lap. "I saw a picture of your room and you had a lot more toys in there than this room has."
"Yeah, but I could not play with them. My daddy said that the toys were to look at, not to play with and I couldn't paint or color 'cause I might mess up my room. He liked to have it always look like the picture so when his important friends came, he could show him the pretty room he got for me. The room was pretty but ." She stopped and looked around the room. "I can really paint in here?"
"Yes, you can."
"What if I spill -"
"You will spill. Youre a little girl, that is part of your job," Jim reassured her as he held her tight
"Sigh," Blair spoke softly, "it is okay to spill, things can be cleaned or replaced but you can't. We want to enjoy every minute of your life with us, so we want you to paint all of the pictures you want."
"Will you put one on the refrigerator?" she asked shyly. "I always wanted a picture on the refrigerator," she whispered.
"I think we can do that, little one," Jim replied with a smile on his face.
That had been four months ago and there had been a new picture every week. Sigh was showing signs of being an amazing artist, which is why they had signed her up for this camp rather than place her with her regular sitter. Blair had never thought that his and Jim's friendship could be so misinterpreted and a small child would be forced to pay the price.
Sigh shifted positions in Blair's arms and opened her eyes.
"Hey, princess," he crooned softly
Sigh's eyes filled with tears again
"Hey, none of that now. It's okay," Blair assured her.
"Are you mad at me?" Sigh asked, not looking at Blair.
"No, I am not mad, I think that there is a better way of handling things than hitting but I'm thinking that this boy must have said something to make you pretty mad. You don't get mad at people for no reason. Want to tell me about it?"
"Cory said that you and Daddy were bad and that God hated people like you, and that he would take me away from you because it was a bad thing for me to live with you. Why would he say that? You're not bad. Please don't let them take me away. I don't want to go away. I don't want you and Daddy to leave me like mommy and daddy did."
"Shhh, honey, we are not bad and nobody is going anywhere, okay?"
Sigh started crying again and once again, Blair held her close making comforting and soothing sounds. "Everything is okay, Daddy will be home soon and it will all be okay."
When Sigh started to quiet down, Blair grabbed a Kleenex and wiped her eyes. "I am gong to try to explain this to you, but it is kind of a grown up subject, so if you don't understand, just tell me okay?"
"Okay, there are many different types of families. Some are like your mommy and daddy where there is a man and a woman. Then there are families where there are either two mommies or two daddies who love each other. Then there is a family like Jim and I who both love you and take care of you, but we are not in love with each other."
"Don't you love Daddy?" Sigh asked.
"Yes, I love your Daddy but it is like loving my brother or a very close friend, it is different from being in love with him."
"I don't understand, Uncle Blair."
"Well, you know how Jim is your Daddy, and Stephen is your uncle. See I am also your uncle, but it is because I want to be, and your daddy wants me to be. It is the reason we adopted you. Your Dad wanted you and he wanted me to be involved in your life, so he put me on the adoption papers as well."
"So even though Daddy Jim is not my birth daddy, he is my daddy and you are my other uncle because you wanted to be. How is that different from when two men or two women who love each other and have a baby?"
"Well, it is different because they are in love just like your mommy and daddy were. Sometimes that scares other people because it is different. Do you understand?"
"I don't know, do you and Daddy still love me?"
"Oh, yes, baby very much."
"You're not going away?"
"I am not a freak?"
"No, absolutely not. I promise. How about we get something to eat and take a bath?"
" Okay. Blair, I don't know if I want to go back tomorrow. Ms Summer said things that I didn't understand but they made me feel funny."
"I know. I will talk with your Daddy and we will take you to Mrs. Taggert tomorrow then you and Daddy can talk about it tomorrow night, okay?"
"Okay. Can we eat now? I so huuungry, I could eat an elephant."
"A whole elephant?"
"Well, I don't know if we have an elephant but how about some Chinese food?"
Later that night after her bath and two stories from Uncle Blair, Sigh fell asleep in her uncle's arms. Blair sat and rocked her back and forth and wondered what in the world made an adult hurt a child like this. Even though he and Jim had never been attracted to each other, they knew there had been assumptions about it before but it had never really bothered them. Now though, there was someone else to think about, was it fair to make her have to deal with these assumptions?
Blair sighed. He knew that someday they would probably have different apartments or homes. After all, Blair knew that he wanted to get married someday, but he had always known that due to the Sentinel and Guide bond, they would always be involved in each other's lives. He loved Sigh as much as Jim did, and it was hard to think that his involvement in her life needed to end.
Blair was so deep in thought, he did not even realize that Jim was home until Jim surprised him in Sigh's room.
"Blair, what's wrong?" Jim asked in a soft voice.
Blair stood up carefully, not wanting to wake Sigh. "I promised her you would tuck her in when you got home. Why don't you put her down for the night and I will meet you downstairs," he suggested as he transferred the sleeping child to Jim's arms.
"Okay," Jim said, worry evident in his voice.
"It's nothing we can't take care of, Jim, nobody was physically hurt, just a slightly dented heart. It will be okay, we just need to make some decisions."
While Blair went to the kitchen to heat up dinner, Jim sat down for a few minutes watching his favorite imp sleeping quietly. He could still see the tracks of tears down her face and the hitch in her breathing, and her deep sleep indicated that she had cried herself into exhaustion today.
~I don't know what's wrong, little girl, but no matter what it is, your Uncle Blair and I will fix it. I promise.~
Putting her into the bed, he tucked the blankets around her and kissed her softly on the forehead.
Walking downstairs, he went into the kitchen where Blair was setting the table. "What happened?" he asked in a low angry voice.
Blair sighed deeply and turned to face Jim. "Sigh had a really bad day at school."
As he explained to Jim what had happened to Sigh that day, it was easy to read how angry Jim was. His jaw was clenched and his eyes were like lasers. "She said what?" Jim asked in a soft and dangerous voice.
"Exactly what I told you," Blair said softly
"What did you tell her?"
"That we would be back tomorrow to discuss it with her and the director of the camp and then I took Sigh and left. Maybe I should have said something to the director at that point but she was so upset and I couldn't get her to stop crying. I thought that getting her calmed downed was the most important thing."
"You're right, it was, we will talk to her tomorrow about it."
"She says that she does not want to go back tomorrow so I called Joel's wife and she said she could watch her."
"Okay, we will keep her out tomorrow and if she does not want to go back then, we will find something else for her to do."
"We need to talk about something else," Blair stated quietly.
"What's that?" Jim asked while getting a beer to drink.
"I think that I should move out," Blair responded.
"What? And when did you come up with this plan?"
"Look what happened to her today? This would not have happened if we were not roommates."
"Sure, what happened today might not have happened, but Blair, how much more is she going to lose if you leave? She needs you, I need you. I can't do this on my own."
"I am not abandoning you, Jim, I will try to find a place nearby and I will do as much as I can to help you."
"Blair, no, if you move, then what are you teaching her, that every time things get difficult it's okay to run away?"
"That's not fair, Jim."
"Yeah, you're right. Look, lets talk to her in the morning, okay? Then we will make the decision. I will not be okay with you leaving but maybe we can move or something if we decide that is the best."
"Okay, I guess so. I'm wiped. I'm going to go to sleep."
"Blair, you handled this very well. I could not have done near as well as you did."
"Yeah, you could have, but thanks."
The night passed slowly for Blair. He thought about the years that he had spent in this loft and he really wanted to stay. This had been the first place that had ever really felt like home. He remembered the first night he had slept in the loft. It had been the night after the warehouse had blown up. He had felt safe for the first time in a long time. He remembered that night and how warm it had felt in the loft. He remembered hoping that someday he would find a place of his own where he felt like he was home. Now that he had, he did know what to do. Oh well, he said to himself, the reality is that she is a child and she has to be protected at all costs.
Jim was up early the next morning and started breakfast. He heard Sigh starting to stir and he walked down to her room anxious to see his daughter and make sure she was okay.
"Good morning, peanut, how is my girl this morning?"
Sigh smiled and jumped up on her bed and threw her arms around Jim's neck. "Good morning, Daddy."
"Hey, kiddo, do you want some breakfast?"
"Can you make pancakes?" Sigh asked, looking at Jim with big puppy dog eyes.
"You have to quit learning these tricks from your uncle Blair," Jim groaned.
"Doing what, Daddy?" Sigh asked innocently.
"You know what I mean. The eyes that get you what you want."
"You're silly, Daddy," Sigh laughed just as her stomach growled.
'Well, it sounds like there is a grumbly bear in your stomach," Jim growled as he blew a big raspberry on her neck.
The giggles that came from Sigh made Jim feel better about what had happened. Jim knew that if she had still been upset about yesterday, she would not be so cheerful this morning.
As he carried Sigh down to the kitchen, he whispered in her ear, "Would you like to wake up your Uncle Blair?"
"Yeah, can I?"
"Sure, let's go."
Blair heard the French doors to his room open and the smothered giggle that told him he was about to be attacked by the red headed munchkin.
"Oomph!" he grunted as he felt a small bundle of energy land on top of him.
"Jim, help me I'm being attacked by a red headed monster!" he yelled
"I don't know, Blair, looks pretty small to be a monster."
"Hmm, maybe it's a puppy dog. Jim, did you buy us a puppy?"
"It's me, silly," Sigh giggled as she popped up, her eyes bright with laughter.
"Me? Jim, do you know anybody named me?"
"Hmm, can't stay that I do. Well, maybe we should check with the neighbors to see if they are missing a me," Jim joked as he started walking to the door. "I will be back in a few."
"No, Daddy, it's me, Sigh."
"Oh, it is Sigh. Well, that's good. I was afraid we were going to have a me in our house, You have to watch those me's, ya know, they always sneak up on you and then they get you like this."
With that, Jim scooped Sigh up in the air and held her high above his head.
"I'm still hungry, daddy, you must feed me," Sigh squealed as he spun her in the air.
"Well, I guess I had better get breakfast started," Jim said as he set Sigh down on the bed and headed back to the kitchen.
"Well, how are you doing this morning, kiddo?" Blair asked.
"I'm okay, Uncle Blair, thank you for taking care of me yesterday."
"Anytime, kiddo, any time. I love you, you know."
"Do I have to go to art camp today?" Sigh asked quietly
"No. If I can get the day off, I think I you and I will spend the day together, and if not, you will go stay with Mrs. Taggert. But first we need to get some breakfast and talk about some stuff."
"Okay," Sigh replied as she turned and dashed out of the room, headed for the kitchen
Blair smiled as he slowly followed her out of the room.
Once everybody had finished breakfast, they all moved to the living room. Blair sat on the couch and Jim sat on the small table so that he could see Sigh's face.
"Sigh, I want to talk about what happened yesterday," Jim said gently.
"It's okay, Daddy. Uncle Blair 'splaned it. He said that there are all kinds of families, and that they are all special and okay. Is that right?" she asked. looking at him. worry evident in her eyes.
"Yeah, that is right, but the problem is that sometimes there are going to be people are going to think that we are bad, just because Uncle Blair and I share a house," Jim explained
"Is that because they think that you are men who love each other like Mommy and Daddies do?"
"Yeah, some people might."
"I thought love was a good thing," Sigh replied softly
"It is, sweetie, it is just sometimes people are afraid of things that are different. So because of that fear, they may say things that are mean like Cory did yesterday, or what your teacher said. I cant promise you that this won't happen again and people won't misunderstand unless we change some things," Blair told her softly
"What things?" Sigh questioned.
"Well, if I moved out of the loft and did not live here then people would not think that Daddy and I are something we're not, and then they'd probably not tease you."
"No, you can't leave," Sigh said, tears filling her eyes. "You belong here with me. Who else is going to make my sandwiches the right way and braid my hair? Daddy can't do it, it looks funny. You can't leave us, we're family, right, Daddy?" the little girl pleaded.
"Oh, Sigh, come here, sweetie," Blair said, tears in his eyes as he pulled her up into his arms. "I love you so much; I just want what is best for you."
"What is best is that you stay here with Daddy and me. Please, Uncle Blair, don't leave us."
"Okay, sweetie, I'll stay," Blair smiled, hugging her close.
"Well, I had better get to work," Jim said, smiling. "I called Simon and explained the situation. He suggested that it might be best for you to stay with munchkin today. I will stop off at the camp today to discuss the situation, and then all of us will talk tonight and decide what we should do next."
"Okay," Blair answered, "just don't go postal, okay?"
"I'm offended. Are you insinuating that I can't handle it?"
"Oh, never that."
"We will see you tonight."
"'Bye, sweetheart," Jim said, sweeping Sigh up into a big hug. "You make sure that Uncle Blair stays out of trouble today, okay?"
Sigh giggled and waved as Jim left the loft.
"Well, little miss, I am going to clean the kitchen, do you want to watch Sesame Street?"
"Okay," Sigh agreed and she skipped into the living room.
After he finished the dishes, Blair went back into the living room where Sigh was singing with Big Bird. He settled down on the couch with a book while she enjoyed her show.
A few minutes later, he felt eyes staring at him. Looking up, his blue eyes met Sigh's green ones.
"Hey, kiddo, what's up?"
"Uncle Blair, what is father's day?" she asked.
"Well, it is a day where kids give their dads a present to let them know how much they love them."
"Can you lend me some money to buy a present for Daddy?"
"Well, I could but I think that he would rather have one that you made."
"Really?" Sigh asked in a somewhat suspicious tone.
"Could you help me make something?"
"Sure I will. Do you have something in mind or should we go to the art store?"
"Let's go to the store."
They set off for the store discussing what she could do. After they found what they wanted, they went back to the apartment where Blair helped Sigh make the special gift.
Two days later was Father's day. Blair had gotten Sigh up a little early and they went into the kitchen to make a special breakfast. Blair, knowing that Jim would be awake, reminded Sigh in a voice that was low but could easily be heard by the Sentinel that they needed to be quiet so Jim would not wake up yet. That ensured that Jim would not ruin the surprise.
After putting everything on the tray, Blair carried the tray and Sigh carried the present up to Jim's room.
Jim turned over just as they came up the stairs. "Well, what have we got here?" Jim said with a smile in his voice.
"Happy Father's day," Sigh yelled as she jumped onto the bed. "We made you breakfast."
"So I see."
"I also made a present for you. Open it first, okay?"
"Okay, I can do that," Jim said opening the present that had obviously been wrapped by the child.
As he opened it, he felt his eyes get misty and he had to swallow hard before he could speak. "It's beautiful, baby."
In a homemade frame was a picture of Sigh's birthparents, Jim and Blair, and in the middle, a picture of Sigh. On the bottom of the frame, written in Sigh's handwriting were the words,
"My two families. I love you both."
Jim gave her the package he had hidden under his bed and she turned to Blair.
"Happy father's day, Uncle Blair."
"For me?" Blair said with a smile.
"Yeah, open it," she urged him.
When Blair had opened his, he also had to swallow hard before he could say anything. In the picture was a shot of himself and Jim swinging Sigh between them. Underneath it, carved into the frame, was the inscription:
Family = love