Christmas Whenever We Want
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DISCLAIMER: This fanfic was written for my own and others' enjoyment. No money has been paid and no copyright infringement is intended.
SUMMARY: It's Christmas and trouble's found Blair again.
For Nancy - Thank you once again for a great beta, and for the title.
MERRY CHRISTMAS ALL!
"Okay, buddy. End of the road."
Cold air slapped at Blair's cheeks as the back door of the van swung open, the bruise under his eye aching fiercely in the chill.
"No! Don't!" One of Blair's hands gripped the door frame in a white-knuckled grip, and his heart climbed into his throat, his eyes drawn to the road, peppered white with snow, speeding by below them.
"Too fast!" His protest scraped painfully from a throat closed tight with fear. A hard shove in his back propelled him forward, tearing his grip from the door and his scream dropped away as he fell into the darkness.
He was a mass of sensation, his terrified wail, deafening in the confines of the van, muted as the wind whipped it away. He had no concept of time or space. Vertigo clawed at him as he somersaulted through the air.
He found his voice again as he hit the road hard, driving the breath from his lungs in a raw scream. He felt himself rolling, and clutched frantically for something to slow his descent. Something smacked hard into the side of his head, and all conscious thought fled, blessedly taking the pain with it.
Awareness returned with a shudder as cold water splattered his face, and tiny shards of ice bit at his cheeks. He realized he'd been lying dazed as cars whizzed by him, mere feet from his sprawled body. Blinking water from his eyes, he sat up cautiously and took stock. It didn't take long. He hurt -- everywhere.
The worst pain came from his ankle and he could already feel it swelling in his shoe. His head throbbed, and he reached up gingerly to feel the tender lump above his ear. The skin on his torso stung, and he figured he had some impressive gravel rash. He shivered as icy tendrils of cold sneaked past his clothes and settled into his bones. Peering blearily into the darkness, he searched for a sign of approaching help, then realized he'd landed down a slight incline and was probably invisible from the road.
Tentatively, he hauled himself up to his knees, waiting for a moment on all fours, with his head hanging between his arms, until the nausea that threatened, subsided. He clambered slowly to his feet, cautiously testing his ankle. It held, though sharp pain shot through to his calf, warning him against trying any fancy maneuvers. Painfully, he climbed up toward the road and stood, staring off into the distance.
Bobbing headlights approached and he hobbled into the near lane, both hands held out in a universal plea for help. He thought the car was going to hit him head-on then it skidded to a halt, the rear snaking wildly on the slick blacktop until it jarred to a stop and the metal grill just brushed his thighs. Using the car for balance, Blair limped around to the driver's side and peered through the window.
"Help, please. I need a ride."
He knew she was going to leave him behind on this freezing, desolate road. He could see the decision had already been made in the wide, staring eyes, the pale set of her face, her crimson mouth opening to scream piercingly at the same time as she reached over and slapped frantically at the rear door lock.
The car accelerated away, its wheels squealing as they fought to get a purchase on the wet road. Blair jumped back, gasping as the front door handle clipped him painfully on the hip. Staggering, he flailed wildly for balance when his injured ankle gave way beneath his weight. He sat down hard on his butt, a wet chill seeping immediately through the seat of his jeans.
Scrambling back so that he was seated on the verge, away from the oncoming traffic, Blair lowered his head and allowed despair to carry him away.
Hands slapped at his face, stinging, and Blair batted them away in irritation. "Don't," he muttered fretfully. "Hurts."
A hot hand cupped his chin, angling his head up, and he opened his eyes to look into the blurred features of his Blessed Protector. "Jim?"
Jim smiled and shifted his hand to squeeze Blair's shoulder. "Yeah, it's me, Chief." The hand moved back to lay palm outward against Blair's cheek. "Christ, you're cold."
Blessed, blissful warmth descended upon him and Blair snuggled into the coat draped about his shoulders with a sigh, trying to focus on Jim's words as they buzzed around his head.
"I'm going to call an ambulance. Hang in there." A final touch on his head, then Jim straightened, moving away.
"No!" Blair's slowly closing eyes shot open and his hand stretched out to snag Jim's pants leg. "Don't go! Please."
He breathed a sigh of relief as Jim crouched down beside him again, the familiar presence more comforting than a battalion of ambulances.
"Where are you hurt? You're bordering on hypothermia here, for a start." Jim's hands began a sensory check of his body.
"Just sore all over," Blair said mournfully. "Ankle hurts. Not too much," he blurted when he saw Jim's eyes narrow in concern. "Please, Jim. Let's go home . Home, James." He tried to force down the hysterical giggle that bubbled forth and it came out wrapped around a sob.
He felt his upper arms gripped and then he was pulled forward, his head pressed against Jim's chest. "It's all right. Let it out. I've got you."
In his exhausted condition, it didn't take long to deplete his store of tears, and as he began to shiver once more in earnest, Blair felt himself pulled gently to his feet, his limp body supported by strong arms.
"Okay, Chief. Home it is, for now. I'll call Simon from the truck. Let him know you're all right."
Blair let Jim haul him almost bodily to the truck, his physical and mental reserves exhausted. He tried to pull his aching body up into the cab, finally allowing Jim to give him an inelegant butt-up and then secure the seatbelt around his slumped body.
"Sorry." The word limped out from between Blair's numb lips, hanging heavily between them until it was whisked away, disintegrated by the waving of Jim's hand in the air.
"Not your fault." Jim kept his eyes on the road, and Blair found himself begging silently for Jim to look at him. "You did what I told you to do. Stayed with the truck. Called for back up."
"Not your fault either." The words sounded lame, inconsequential, and Blair rushed to shore them up. "Not your fault you couldn't get back there in time. You didn't know."
Jim's knuckles glistened whitely in the dull glow of the dash light as he gripped the steering wheel. "You're my partner, I should have known."
The apology in his voice was so intense that Blair felt his heart clench painfully. Finally, Jim looked at him, and Blair saw the terrifying helplessness he'd felt in the past few hours mirrored in Jim's drawn features. Blair dropped his chin to his chest, this time unashamedly allowing the tears to fall. In the darkness, he felt Jim's hand, warm and substantial curl around his own and squeeze lightly.
"Are you sure you don't need to go to the hospital?"
"No." The word huffed out tiredly. "Not entirely sure," Blair admitted. "But you can check my ankle out. Anyway, it'll be a madhouse in this weather and on Christmas Day . Oh."
Jim looked at him sharply. "What?"
"We missed Christmas." Blair knew he sounded pathetic, like a whiny two-year-old kid. His nose felt clogged and snotty and his eyes stung.
"It's okay," Jim patted his hand. "We can do Christmas whenever we want."
Blair drifted, halfway between waking and sleeping, the sharp edges of his pain softened by the gentle, jerky motions of the truck and the closeness of his partner beside him.
He startled awake, his eyes snapping open as dizziness overwhelmed him and he felt himself falling.
"Shh. It's okay. You're safe. Sleep."
The blurred outlines of the loft took shape and his brow furrowed as he tried to remember coming home. He couldn't. He was lying on the couch, warmer than he thought he'd ever be again, wrapped snugly in a heavy quilt, his head pillowed on Jim's lap.
His face felt tight under his left eye, and further down he could feel the smarting stiffness of gravel rash across his stomach. Distantly, his ankle throbbed dully. Jim pressed a large hand against his forehead, urging him to lie back, and Blair turned into the warmth of the touch. The hand moved away and he reached out in panic. The hand returned, stroking further back over his skull.
"It's all right. I'm still here."
On the opposite side of the room, the Christmas tree towered over them, its bright twinkling lights causing the shadows in the loft to loom and recede rhythmically. Atop the highest branch, the cheap Christmas angel Jim had bought earlier that week smiled cheerfully down on them, her hard plastic features softening in the gentle glow of the room.
"Yeah?" Jim's hand stroked soothingly over Blair's head, lulling him into sleep.
"The worst and best I've ever had," his partner replied.
November 28th 2002
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