Blair couldn’t help but be amused by how many people thought Jim was difficult to buy a present for and that included Simon. Little did they know that he was a big old sap who pretty much liked anything that showed the person had put some thought into the gift, no matter what it ended up being. Blair had found that out the easy way their first Christmas together.
He remembered that Jim had looked up from the box he’d just opened, a huge smile on his face. A much bigger smile than Blair had honestly expected to get, considering how damn poor he'd been at the time. He’d barely had any money to spend.
“Chief! This is great!” Jim had exclaimed, pulling out a “World’s Best Fisherman” mug and the bag of extra dark coffee beans.
Blair had just about gone limp with relief that Jim had liked it at all, never mind that much. For the most part, he’d assumed Jim had been humoring him. The following year, though, had proved just how much of a gushy center the man had when he’d immediately put on the bulky, uneven sweater that Blair had made for him while attempting to woo a girl who had wanted to teach him to knit. Jim had been just as sincere in his praise of that gift as the one the year before.
It hadn’t kicked in until their third Christmas together why Jim was so happy with whatever present he got: Jim didn’t expect anyone to get him anything. All the cold years he’d spent with his father, and then the decade or more he’d spent in the military, then even more time at the CPD had sucked him into the macho culture of ‘too manly to want presents.’ Or, more accurately, ‘too manly to be show disappointment when there aren’t any presents.’ The sudden understanding had made him want to give Jim a huge, belated hug for all the presents he’d missed out on and the feeling of family that were supposed to go with them.
They’d been together for a couple of months at that point, so Blair had done just that and gotten a very confused, but pleased, look from Jim at the random hugging. The memory still made him smile.
Ever since then, Blair made a point to buy Jim extra special presents and dropped hints like anvils to Simon and the guys at work, too. They’d subjected him to insane amounts of, ‘Awww, he’s in wuuv!’ teasing, but that didn’t detract from Blair’s mission even a little. He hounded them for two weeks before each birthday and Christmas every year to make sure that Jim got tons of gifts from his friends and knew that he really was loved by a lot of people. Not that they really needed the reminders anymore; everyone liked making Jim happy.
After more than ten years of going strong, having survived just about the worst things a couple could go through, Blair never missed a chance to make sure Jim knew he was loved. They still got pissed off at each other on a semi-regular basis despite finishing each other’s sentences, but Blair never used the ‘I won’t love you’ card ever. Jim was still too unsure of himself emotionally, even after all that time. There’d been more years without emotional stability than with, even though Blair did his damnedest to make up for those years of doing without.
“Chief! Shake a leg!”
Blair shook off the fond reminiscences and shouted back, “I’m coming! Hold your horses!”
He grabbed the massive bag of presents and ran downstairs, tripping on the last step. He landed heavy against Jim, who was still built like a brick wall and didn’t move, but just absorbed the impact.
Jim grinned at him down at him and said, “How did I know you were going to miss that last step?”
“Because you’ve been going to fix it for five years now,” Blair grumped at him, grinning a little.
Jim rolled his eyes. “Right. It’s the step that’s broken. C’mon, Chief, the kids await.”
Blair stuck his tongue out and easily ducked Jim’s lazy swat at his head. They left the loft and drove over to the mall, which was having a toy drive. They’d been the collection contact for work and Blair had spent the last half-hour using them as cover to wrap Jim’s presents because, “Jim, I have to make sure there aren’t any choking hazards. Go and watch football or something. I’m busy. Shoo!”
It was nearly impossible to wrap for a sentinel if one was in the house and since Jim was invariably with Blair, he totally justified the fibbing.
The mall was packed, no surprise there on the weekend before Christmas, and Blair walked behind Jim. He made a great people blocker, like those sharp edges f\down the middle of a plow, and Blair just followed in his wake. It only took about ten minutes to get to the drop-off point, which was also mobbed. Blair was happy to see that, knowing that a lot of kids would be happy in a few days’ time for the effort. They dropped off the presents and then Jim took hold of Blair’s hand and said, “C’mon. I need to pick something up.”
“Feel free to walk ahead of me,” Blair said, grinning.
Jim just snorted and tossed an arm over his shoulder. The casual affection still amazed Blair and he put his arm around Jim’s waist in return. Jim had been fearless about being with him in public since they’d started, staring down anyone who gave them any shit about it. And it wasn’t like they made out in the middle of food courts or anything, but ten years ago just holding hands had gotten them insults and glares. Now, a hell of a lot less people even noticed, which made Blair all kinds of happy.
He frowned in curiosity when Jim tugged him into one of the high end jewelry stores. It wasn’t like he hadn’t bribed Naomi with jewelry in the past, her ‘you’re dating a pig?’ outburst had required a few sacrifices to the gods of shiny things, but usually they went somewhere less expensive. Not to mention, neither of them had done anything she might consider jewelry-worthy. “Jim?”
Jim smiled down at him and brought him over to the counter near the back.
An older man with glasses and white tufts of hair smiled broadly on seeing them. “Ah! Jim, how wonderful to see you again! I take it this is him?”
Jim nodded. “This is him. Blair, this is Mr. White. He goes way back with my father.”
Blair shook the man’s hand automatically, even still confused. “Nice to meet you.”
“And you, Blair! I've heard so much about you! I have your items right here, Jim,” Mr. White said, turning to a cabinet and pulling out a velvet display pad.
Blair’s jaw dropped when he saw two rings resting together on the velvet. They were simple bands, probably white gold or platinum, with distinctive and matched etching on the outside. His heart pounded suddenly in his chest and he looked up at Jim, completely speechless.
Jim stared at him intently for a few seconds, likely running his senses over Blair, and then smiled broadly, letting out a sigh of relief. “You like them.”
Blair threw his arms around Jim’s neck and held on tight. They’d been domestic partners at work for years, but the subject of actually getting married had never really come up, even when the initiative had passed in the fall elections. Blair had somehow fooled himself into thinking it didn’t matter, that he was happy with what they had, but now… he squeezed tighter and blinked away tears of happiness.
Jim squeezed him back and then said softly against his ear, “Love you, Blair.”
Blair let out a shuddering breath and finally let go. He couldn’t stop grinning like an idiot as he said, “I love you, too, Jim.”
He was a little startled to find Mr. White dabbing a handkerchief to his eyes when they finally turned back to the old man. “Finally! It took far too long for people to realize the disgrace of not allowing people in love to get married. I am so happy for you both. Now! Shall we try them on for size? Jim said he knew your size, but it is my opinion that most men do not, even when they think they do.”
Blair laughed a little and said, “Oh, I’m sure mine will fit just fine.”
And it did. Jim gently slipped it on his ring finger, pushing it down to the base and then twisting it a couple of times as if memorizing the sensation. Maybe he was. Blair took a few seconds to admire it and then pulled his hand in a fist, not wanting to take it off. He looked up at Jim again and asked, “Can I wear it?”
Jim nodded and said, “Sure. We’ll just take them off for the ceremony.”
Blair scooped up the second, slightly bigger ring, and carefully put it on Jim’s finger. He instantly loved the way it looked and brought Jim’s hand up to kiss the ring. He heard Jim’s breath hitch and got about the widest smile he’d seen on Jim’s face since his favorite team had won the series three years ago.
Mr. White said, “Here, let me take a picture!” and proceeded to arrange their hands together on the velvet pad. The rings showed up bright and new against their hands and Blair somehow fell in love all over again with Jim standing there, waiting as Mr. White fussed over their hands and took multiple pictures.
When that was finally done, Blair pulled Jim in for a long, happy kiss before punching him hard in the shoulder.
Jim grunted in pain and rubbed his shoulder, turning wide, surprised eyes on him. “What the hell was that for?”
Blair glared and said, “Now all my presents for you suck! There’s no way I can top this!”
Jim laughed a little and pulled him into a headlock to give him a noogie. Blair squirmed to get free to no avail, and Jim said, “Don’t worry my little guppy. I love all your presents,” before goosing him and letting him go.
Blair yelped at the goosing and punched him again in the exact same spot. “Jerk.”
Jim winced and rubbed his shoulder again. “But I’m your jerk, right?”
Blair maintained his glare for about two seconds in the face of Jim’s big, blue eyes and then caved. “Yeah, you’re my jerk. Jerk.”
Jim stole a quick kiss and they waved to Mr. White, who was doubled over in laughter but waved back.
Blair put his arm around Jim’s waist again and then grinned, feeling evil as they walked into the crowded mall again. “So, Naomi will want to stay with us for a few weeks before the wedding. You know, to make sure everything is in harmony and blessed and ecologically sound. I’ll have to stock up on the sage.”
Blair smiled brightly, all right in his world again. And besides which, Jim was going to love his “World’s Greatest Detective” mug. He really was so easy to buy for.