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Just Another Christmas

by ljc

5/05



Summary: A 'first Christmas together' story. 1. Jim's POV. 2. Blair's POV.



No warnings.



Rating: G.



Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, Paramount and the SciFi Channel. No money is being made. No copyright infringement is intended. This story was written by ljc with the love of the show in mind.



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Part 1, Jim's POV



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Jim stood gazing at the distant bay from in front of the living room windows. Even with his enhanced sight he couldn't see it, the bay that is. The weather was lousy and had been all day. He slowly raised his beer to take another sip wondering what Sandburg had been thinking when he had headed out to the airport. No way was Naomi's plane coming in today. It was too bad. The kid had been excited about seeing his mom for the holiday. But maybe they'd get lucky and the weather would break.



With a weary sigh he turned to the sofa to try to catch a few minutes of the game. Blair would be sorry he missed it. He was a bigger Jags fan than Jim. It was one of the more obvious interests they shared. Blair actually had a signed trading card from Orvelle Wallace. It was one of the few possessions the kid owned that had a monetary value, unless some of his 'artifacts' were actually worth something. Blair would know, Jim certainly didn't.



Jim sighed yet again, more with boredom than anything else. It had only been a few months since Sandburg had moved into the apartment. A slight grin appeared when he remembered Blair's promise that he'd be out in a week. Then he sobered as he thought what that would have meant to his career, his life. He sighed again as he thought 'what a difference a week made'.



He looked around the room and noted the items replaced after 'Hurricane Larry' had gone through the place ... twice. Who knew the havoc that little chimp ... sorry Larry ... Barbary Ape, could wreak? Jim then noted each of the items that had strayed from Blair's room. Blair didn't have much in the way of possessions but they had never seemed to fit comfortably in his room. They'd gradually become part of the background in the loft. There was that mask from Timbuktu or wherever. He wandered idly over to finger a little lump of mishapen clay. It looked like a three year old had made it and then dropped it before it dried. He wondered why Blair was particularly fond of that one.



He turned quickly as the ring of the phone jarred him from his lethargy and he answered with his usual crisp, “Ellison.”



“Oh, hey, Jim. It's me, Blair. Uh, Mom's flight got canceled. She's not going to make it for a visit for a while. I thought I'd call and tell you that I'd be leaving here any minute, to head back to the loft. Not that you need to know, but I thought you might be wondering, what with the weather and all, that I might be stuck in a snowdrift or something ... ”



Jim grinned as he interrupted, “Chief, I'm glad you called. It's too bad your mom can't make it. But with the weather this bad, maybe it's safer for her to stay where she is.”



“Yeah, man. You're right of course. We just usually manage some time together, and it's been months.”



Jim didn't really know what to say. He felt powerless because it wasn't anything he could fix. The kid had to know that things could happen to mess with the best plans. Jim had learned the hard way that life happened, and it was usually messy and/or inconvenient. “Well ... you're heading home now? I'll see you in, what, half an hour, forty-five minutes? If you have trouble traveling just pull over and call me. We both know that my car's better than yours in the snow. I'll come and get you. You have your phone, right?”



“Thanks, man. I appreciate the thought but the street out to the airport was just plowed and sanded. I'll take it slow. How's Prospect? Has it been plowed lately?”



Jim listened intently for a few seconds, causing Blair to say softly, “Hey, Jim? You there, man?”



Jim reined in his senses with jerk. “Yeah, Chief, sorry. I can hear the plow truck. I think it's heading this way. Hopefully the street will be clear soon. You'd better head out. Drive carefully,” answered Jim.



“Thanks. I'll be home soon,” said Blair.



<><><>



Three days till Christmas. Jim had picked up a gift for Simon and one for Rhonda. But what should he get for Sandburg? Should he have gotten it for Chanukah? Well, it's too late for Chanukah. Funny, Blair didn't say anything about it, and his mom wasn't coming until nearly Christmas. Maybe it's because she's into new age stuff. He'd just put the gift out on Christmas Eve.



<><>



Two days till Christmas. The Christmas decorations Jim had stored away last year were still in the basement. Jim couldn't see why he should bother getting them out when neither of them were going to be around much.



He had volunteered to take a long shift Christmas Day, and then he'd have Christmas Eve off. When he had finally told Sandburg, Blair had just smiled and said it was a nice thing to do, a good deed in the spirit of the holiday. Not much of a good deed Jim thought. He had spent it with Simon last year, but Simon had a big family gathering planned in Seattle that Daryl wanted to attend this year.



That left Sandburg. But Sandburg was running around finalizing holiday party invites now that his mom wasn't able to come for a visit. That figured. The kid's social commitments had been a running joke with them. The two of them had spent a lot of time together, and Blair had asked him a thousand and one questions in the past few months, but he had never asked about the holidays or his plans, so Jim figured Blair's plans didn't include staying at the loft. He knew Blair had changed his plans, several times if the phone conversations he'd half heard were anything to go by. By the sound of his party dates, he must be booked solid.



<>



Christmas Eve should be a pretty quiet and relaxing evening since Sandburg would surely be out partying 'somewhere'. Jim felt like he could probably use some down time alone anyway.



Jim pulled into his parking space on Prospect St. With a sigh he leaned back. He was in no hurry, unlike everyone else out at this time on Christmas Eve. He was glad he had done his shopping early. He'd had his presents wrapped days ago and had given them out, except for Sandburg's. He never could understand leaving shopping till the very last minute. Thankfully he was a little more organized than that.



As he reached for his seatbelt release, his senses reached out for his apartment. Hunh, Sandburg has Christmas music on. What is he singing? And he could smell turkey? He wondered what Blair was up to, but was afraid to guess.



What happened to all those party plans of his? Now that he thought about it, Blair often tried to spring something on him as a 'surprise'. Jim thought it was kind of a game with Blair ... Surprise the Sentinel ... if he could. He unlocked the door and stood looking at this attempt. Well ... nice. Understated even. He'd put one of those little potted trees with miniature decorations on the coffee table in front of the balcony windows. It looked rather amazing surrounded by all those candles. There was even a wrapped present. For Jim. Hunh.



The tree may have been small, but the scent had brought back a lot of memories. Jim was trying to keep the good ones foremost. There was a nice meal laid out on the table. It had been a long time since he'd had roast turkey. It was too much to cook for one person, and when he and Carolyn were still together, they had always gone out on holidays.



This wasn't what Jim expected to be doing tonight. And he wasn't going to be alone after all this year. Even when he spent time with Simon, Jim came back to a pretty cheerless apartment. Looking back he knew that it was his own fault. He could have tried to be more 'festive'. But he looked around and it was ... warmer, cozier ... than it had probably ever been. Sandburg even seemed mellower tonight.



It was a good present. Not the gift, he hadn't opened it yet. The surprise. The thought behind the surprise. And the companionship. Just spending time with a friend. Yeah, the gift of friendship beats everything else.


“Merry Christmas Blair.”



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Part 2, Blair's POV



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Naomi had called to warn him the flight might be canceled before he left for the airport. Stupid, stupid. He should have known ... he just knew the flight would be canceled. He'd just been hoping that she could make it this holiday. He tried not to let it bother him so much. But she was his only family. Well, close family. That he knew about. Sigh.



He leaned heavily against the frosty glass in the waiting area staring into the snow. He thought he'd made a life here, but it was still a gypsy lifestyle. No permanent address, though living with Jim was as permanent as he had ever gotten. Lots of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, students, people he interacted with on a daily basis, but none of them were family or the kind of friends that stuck around. People uprooted their lives all the time, especially in a college community.



The most stable people he knew were the detectives, uniforms and support staff at the Cascade Police Department. But he hadn't known them very long. He still got a lot of sidewise glances from some of them. From stories told by his mother and her hippie friends, he should be lucky they just ignored him.



Another, lengthier, sigh escaped. Well. What now? Classes were out. He could hang out with some of the other TA's and grad students. There were always some that hung around the University during the semester break, grateful that the holiday lessened their burdens. When the Uni was in session they always seemed to have too many classes to teach, too much research to do, too many exams/papers to grade, and were expected to assist too many people. Blair knew that feeling all too well.



Blair liked hanging out with his friends like anyone else. Yet, these past few months, he'd seen a very different part of life while observing Jim in Major Crimes. He wasn't a child anymore, and he felt that like never before. He wanted, maybe needed, the feeling of home that Naomi's presence would have represented.



Well. Jim would be at the loft. He thought about his temporary home and his 'roommate' ... Detective James Ellison, sentinel ... and his Holy Grail. He'd thought he was going to be on the street the night his place burned, or at least in his car. He squirmed a little at the thought that he had actually been begging Jim for help. He'd been surprised when Jim agreed that he could stay in his spare room for a week. Jim had seemed so ... self-contained. He hadn't been surprised that everyone characterized Jim as a loner.



When he'd first seen Jim's place he'd thought it a tad spartan. The loft was not at all like the varied décor, or was that clutter, that graced his own apartments over the years. It was certainly not as dismal as the warehouse had been. But he could manage almost anywhere. It was cool. He'd already learned that Jim liked things organized. Was that a sentinel thing, or a military thing? What did the military do to those guys anyway?



He'd better give Jim a call before he headed back.



“Ellison,” Jim answered. Blair wondered if Jim had caught on that he had to stifle a chuckle every time he heard him answer the phone with that tone of military precision and crispness. After all, he knew the real Jim Ellison. He pushed that thought aside then explained to Jim the foiled holiday plans and told him he was headed home.



“Well ... you're heading home now? I'll see you in, what, half an hour, forty-five minutes? If you have trouble traveling just pull over and call me. We both know that my car's better than yours in the snow. I'll come and get you. You have your phone, right?”



Blair felt himself smiling, and tried to keep the wisecracks from popping out. He wasn't sure how offended Jim would be. Besides, it was kind of endearing, in a Jim-sort-of-way, to have someone worry and be ready to come to his rescue at the drop of a hat. He'd already had several frightening lessons about that. It was comforting to have backup. He hoped Jim felt the same way. “Thanks, man. I appreciate the thought but the street out to the airport was just plowed and sanded. I'll take it slow. How's Prospect? Has it been plowed lately?”



Jim listened intently for a few seconds, leaving Blair wondering where the 'sentinel' had gone. “Hey, Jim? You there, man?” He spoke softly hoping to anchor Jim if he had zoned.



“Yeah, Chief, sorry. I can hear the plow truck. I think it's heading this way. Hopefully the street will be clear soon. You'd better head out. Drive carefully,” answered Jim.



“Thanks. I'll be home soon,” said Blair. He suddenly wondered when he had started calling it 'home'.



<><><>



Only three days left till Christmas. He knew Naomi would have a good time with her friends. The skiing would be good anyway out there in Colorado with all the fresh snow. He missed her though.



He wondered what Jim was planning for the holidays. He hadn't wanted to intrude. He figured Jim had made plans that didn't include him since he was going to be with Naomi. He didn't want Jim to think he had to include him now. He knew Jim's ex-wife Carolyn from the PD. Somehow he couldn't envision a warm Christmas holiday with her. Or for that matter, a warm Christmas holiday there in the loft. It wasn't quite as bare as when he'd moved in, but Jim hadn't made any effort to decorate this year.



But still, he had Jim's present all wrapped. He'd just give it to him on Christmas Eve. Or would Jim do it on Christmas morning? To play it safe he'd put it out the night before Christmas.



<><>



Only two days left. Blair was trying to juggle his party schedule while riding to work with Jim. He'd finally been told by Jim that he'd be working all day Christmas, a long shift, to cover for others. That was really thoughtful of him. But that left his party schedule in shambles. He thought it was hard juggling two girlfriends!



Later that morning Blair returned to an empty bullpen. He walked over to Simon's door and gave a half-hearted knock. “Hey Simon, have you seen Jim? I just got back from records with the reports he needs.”



“Sandburg, believe it or not he doesn't check in with me every time he has to go out,” Simon grumped as he stood and stretched. He glanced at the coatrack then said, “But since his coat is still here he should be back soon. Why don't you come in and sit for a minute? Would you like some coffee?” Simon asked as he waved a full pot by the Observer's nose.



“Oh yeah, thanks man. That smells great. Is that a Christmas present?” enthused Blair.



“That's right, and you should feel privileged. This is the real stuff. Kona coffee,” said Simon with a big grin.



“Wow, the smell alone would break my budget,” said Blair as he inhaled the rich aroma.



“My cousin sent it. He outdid himself. There's still time to upscale my present to him this year. I'm going to see him in Seattle on Christmas Day,” Simon grinned as he leaned back in his chair. “By the way, what are you and Jim doing for Christmas this year?”



That made Blair gulp a big swallow of hot coffee. The resultant cough gave him just a moment to digest that news. “Jim and me? What do you mean Simon?”



Simon looked a little upset but replied, “Well Jim and I had planned to spend it together again, but Daryl wanted to visit his cousins. We're going to a big family get together down in Seattle. I thought, with a new roommate, you might be doing something together, if only a meal. But you don't have any plans together do you?” Simon looked ruefully at Sandburg, “Don't worry about it. Jim's a big boy. Uh ... has he ever talked to you about his family?”



“Not a word. You mean he has a family? Where?” Blair would have kicked himself if he was able. All those questions and answers, but not the right ones.



Simon replied quietly, “He doesn't talk about family. Ever. Carolyn might know, but she's not the one I'd ask.”



Blair couldn't agree more with that assessment. Well, he thought, that changes things. He and Simon thoughtfully sipped their coffees as Blair waited for Jim to return to his desk.



<>



Blair had made 'party schedule' excuses to Jim so he could leave early on Christmas Eve. He hoped Jim hadn't caught on to his obfuscation. He had made a lot of plans to surprise Jim, tossed them, and finally pared them down to some basic traditions that Jim probably enjoyed when he was a child. Blair didn't have the money for decorations and a big tree, but Jim might think that would be inconvenient or even messy with all the pine needles coming off everywhere. So, he'd decided on a little tree in a pot that could be planted in the spring. If Jim didn't want it in the loft he could keep it in his office.



Now, the main thing would be Christmas Eve dinner. He'd finally decided on a small turkey so they could have leftovers to heat up at the station tomorrow. There wouldn't be a lot of places open anyway to go out for lunch. He'd made some mulled cider, and for dessert he'd called the bakery downstairs from the loft. He'd picked up a pie on the way home. Yeah, that sounded like a Christmas dinner. Added to that, there were lots of candles around the little pine tree, a little natural cinnamon incense, and some Christmas music from the local station that was playing soft instrumentals for Christmas Eve. Blair chuckled and shook his head as he thought that he put less effort into some dates.



He hoped this would be a nice surprise for Jim. He hadn't had much time to plan this, so hopefully he hadn't given it away with his excuse to leave early. But he had to pick up the turkey, then the fresh baked pie from the bakery, and of course he had to pick up the little tree his friend Stacey had saved out for him. Dinner would be a little later than usual, to give the turkey time to cook. But he and Jim hardly had a regular schedule to keep to anyway.



He started humming along to the traditional carols that were playing on the radio. Even if he didn't know all the lyrics, he still knew the tunes by heart. Then came one he'd learned in Germany one year ... Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen ... It's harmony had caught his fancy. He started singing along as he finished his preparations.



He heard the key in the lock and turned just as Jim entered. He was half afraid Jim would be upset, but he relaxed when he saw Jim's face. Jim had a slightly surprised look. Almost like he couldn't believe anyone would do this for him. Almost like someone getting a gift he truly wanted but had no expectation of receiving. That made Blair feel warm inside. It was a good feeling. A 'Christmasy' kind of feeling that made Blair feel he'd gotten as good a gift as Jim.



“Merry Christmas Jim.”



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finis


Note: In the story Blair would have been singing the German version of my favorite carol. LO, HOW A ROSE E'ER BLOOMING, lyrics

(English and German) can be found at: GetSomeLyrics.com


'The Sentinel' began airing in 1996. Chanukah began the evening of Dec. 5, 1996, so it was over well before Christmas that year.