Thank you to caarianna for the gift idea :)
Rated R for one slightly steamy scene.
Summary: How do you buy your boyfriend something awesome for Christmas when you're broke?
“Oh my god! Jim, I can’t believe you did this.” Blair Sandburg kept his voice to a whisper despite the fact there was no one else in the apartment but him. He felt vaguely guilty, snooping through Jim’s closet like this.
You’re not really snooping, the little figurative devil on his shoulder insisted and it was right… kind of. After all he was simply putting Jim’s laundry away and if his eye had been caught by the brightly colored ribbon half-hidden by the pile of sweaters on the bottom of Jim’s closet that was hardly his fault.
Of course the little angel on his other shoulder had to pipe up then, reminding him that just because he’d seen what looked to be an enticing surprise that didn’t mean he had to investigate it further but Blair shoved his conscience aside with some small effort and managed to justify himself further. He needed to know what Jim had bought him for Christmas, he told himself. Jim had a habit of buying Blair expensive and wonderful presents, especially since they’d become lovers and Blair had been determined this year that he’d match Jim’s generosity dollar for dollar. Now though, as he looked down at the Apple laptop he’d managed to extricate almost seamlessly from its box, his heart sunk. He’d lost his job at the University after proclaiming himself a fraud, he didn’t start at the Police Academy until after the new year, a full six weeks away, and he had the grand total of $36.54 in his bank account and a big fat zero on his credit card. Worse still, he knew Jim had had his eye on a Japanese chef knife set and Blair really really wanted to buy it for him. Jim loved to cook, and since they’d become lovers he especially loved to cook for Blair. Of course, unless Blair could come up with $500 in the few weeks before Christmas it was a moot point. He sighed, shoved the artfully re-closed laptop box back under the sweaters then closed the closet door and headed downstairs. He had a few phone calls to make before Jim got home.
By the time Jim was almost due to walk in the door from work, Blair had managed to line up a midnight to six shelf-stocking job at the local supermarket five nights a week. He had five students to tutor during the day as well and he was pretty sure that the sum total of both jobs would more than adequately provide for his Christmas needs. Now all he had to do make sure Jim didn’t find out about it. Jim still thought Blair had a tendency to burn the candle at both ends and Blair really didn’t want to be talked out of doing this. Besides it wasn’t like he was doing anything much at the moment anyway. Jim was still on desk duty because of the leg injury he’d received when Klaus Zeller had shot up the PD so he’d told Blair to take some time out, spend some time at home before he went off to the Academy. It had been great for a day or two but by the third day Blair was bored out of his gourd and Jim was starting to get annoyed at him calling him four or five times a day just for something to do. So there were plans to be made so Jim didn’t suspect a thing.
Blair went into what used to be his bedroom and opened up the closet. He pulled out the little white noise generator he’d bought for Jim what seemed like a lifetime ago when Jim had had his ears syringed and they’d gone on overdrive. He took the machine upstairs and turned it on, then pushed it under their bed as far as it would go so Jim wouldn’t spot it when he went up to bed. Blair felt a little pang of guilt at using Jim’s senses to deceive him but he pushed that aside. It was for a good cause after all. For once Blair could buy the love of his life something wonderful, something that said I love you more eloquently than Blair ever could.
By the time Jim came home Blair was pottering around in the kitchen, putting the ingredients together for a delicious beef stir-fry.
“Hey,” Jim said, coming up behind Blair at nuzzling his neck then peering over his shoulder at the food sizzling in the wok. “Smells great.” He kissed Blair’s neck. “Food smells good too.”
Blair laughed and turned within the circle of Jim’s arms so he could place a kiss on his lips. “Hungry?” he asked.
“For food or for you?” Jim replied, walking them both sideways and pushing Blair up against the fridge, then leaning in and pressing against him so Blair could feel the hard length of him and his own cock began to sit up and beg for attention. He leaned around Jim and flicked off the burner then grabbed Jim by the hand and dragged him into the living room, pushing him down on the sofa. “We can heat it up later,” he murmured as he tore off his clothes.
“You coming to bed?” Jim asked once they’d finally eaten dinner and watched TV for an hour. He yawned and Blair grinned behind the book he was reading. Wearing Jim out with sex and then filling his belly with good food had worked perfectly. With the white noise generator humming away beneath their bed, Jim would no doubt sleep all night and Blair would be back from his new job before Jim even realized he’d left.
He peered over the top of his book and blew Jim a kiss. “You go on up, get some sleep,” he said casually. “I really want to finish the last couple of chapters of this book. I’m not even tired yet,” he said.
“Okay.” Jim yawned again, sketched a wave at him and climbed up the stairs to their bedroom.
Blair waited for a short while then glanced over at the clock. 11.15PM. He had to be at the store by 12 midnight. He snuck up the stairs in his stockinged feet and checked on Jim, who was out like a light. Triumphantly Blair headed back downstairs, grabbed his jacket, his backpack, and his keys and went to work.
Jim groaned and pushed away the hand that was shaking his shoulder, burying his head in his pillow. “Go to sleep, Chief,” he muttered.
The hand came back and shook again, harder this time and Jim swore then rolled over onto his back and glared up in to the face of the person standing over him. “Simon?” he said. “What the hell is going on?” He blinked the remnants of sleep from his eyes and came awake suddenly. “Where’s Blair?” he asked, turning to see that Blair’s side of the bed was empty, the pillows not even disturbed.
Simon sighed heavily. “Put on some clothes and come downstairs, Jim. I’m going down to make some coffee. I’ll explain everything when you come down there.”
Jim frowned. Even in the dim light afforded his room by the skylight he could see that Simon’s eyes were damp and red-rimmed. “Tell me,” he begged, even as he began to pull on the clothes he’d worn the day before. “Is it Joel? Rafe? H? Who?”
But Simon just patted his shoulder clumsily and went downstairs while Jim finished dressing and shoved his feet into socks and shoes then went tearing down the stairs after him.
“Tell me!” Jim demanded, taking a seat at the dining table when Simon told him to.
Simon stopped his coffee preparations and walked over and sat down across from Jim. “Jim, it’s Blair.” He held up a hand as Jim opened his mouth to speak. “Let me finish telling you before you interrupt me please. I don’t think I can bear to say it twice.” He scrubbed roughly at his eyes and swallowed visibly then said, “Blair’s car was found in the Cascade River overnight. His backpack was in the car but there’s no sign of Blair. The police investigating the accident believe that his body was either washed out of the car on impact or that he tried to swim to shore and didn’t make it. They’re searching for his body now and thinking that it might be found along the riverbank somewhere by morning.”
Jim was already shaking his head before Simon had finished. “It’s not possible,” he said fervently, jumping to his feet so forcefully that the chair he’d been sitting on crashed to the floor behind him. “Blair didn’t go out last night. He was here, reading a book on the couch when I went to bed.”
“Then where is he now?” Simon asked, sorrow clear in his voice. “I’m sorry, Jim,” he added as Jim turned and ran into the bathroom then back out and into Blair’s old bedroom.
“He probably just went to get breakfast for us,” Jim said, trying to be casual but he could feel his heart racing, a lump rising in his throat.
“His car was found at 2 AM. There’s no way he would have been out getting breakfast then,” Simon replied wearily.
Jim was shaking his head again. “Wait a minute,” he said, rubbing a hand over his eyes. “How’d you get in here?”
“I used the key Blair always leaves over the door,” Simon said. “I just about bashed the door in but no one answered and then I remembered the key and I let myself in. Wait a minute, why didn’t you hear me knocking? No matter how tired you were you would have heard me…” His voice trailed off as Jim turned and ran back upstairs. “Jim! What the hell is going on?” he yelled.
Upstairs in the bedroom Jim took stock for a moment. Simon was right. There was no way he wouldn’t have heard a knock at the door unless… He crossed to the closet and pulled open the door but saw inside just his and Blair’s clothes. He forced himself to take a breath. Panicking wouldn’t help Blair and he had no doubt that Blair was still alive. Their bond was such that he just knew he’d sense it somehow if Blair was dead. He turned in a slow circle, ignoring Simon who was now standing at the top of the stairs, looking as if he thought Jim had gone completely loony tunes. Suddenly inspiration struck and Jim walked quickly over to the bed and got down on his knees, peering beneath it. “Damn,” he muttered as something in the shadows caught his eye. He reached under and pulled the object out, holding it aloft as he stood up. “It’s a white noise generator,” he said before Simon could even ask. “Blair bought me one just like it a couple years back when I was having problems with my hearing over-reacting.”
“You think someone came in here and put this under your bed so they could-“
“They took Blair,” Jim said surely. “It’s the only explanation. They kidnapped him and then they dumped his car in the river to make us think he was dead.”
“There’s no sign of a struggle downstairs,” Simon pointed out.
“If he’d fallen asleep on the couch they could have drugged him to get him out quietly,” Jim replied. He handed the white noise generator to Simon, who took it gingerly. “Get it dusted for prints, Simon. They probably wore gloves but we might get lucky.” Jim headed downstairs again and went over to grab his jacket off the hook there. He opened the drawer where he kept his home weapon, checked it for ammunition and stuck it in his pants at the small of his back. “I’m going to look over Blair’s car. I might be able to pick up something the first responders missed.”
“All right,” Simon said, “but Jim, even if you’re right about this, it doesn’t mean Blair’s alive.”
Jim blinked away the dampness that welled in his eyes at the thought that Blair might not be and shook his head. “I’d know,” he said firmly. “I can’t explain it, Simon, but I’d know.”
A couple of hours later and he wasn’t so sure. He’d gone over Blair’s car with the Sentinel equivalent of a fine tooth comb and found nothing that would help them locate Blair. He’d walked up and down the river bank as far as he could with the search team and yet found no sign of him. Simon had called him and told him the white noise generator had only his and Blair’s prints on it. That didn’t mean his theory that Blair had been kidnapped was wrong, Jim knew. All it meant was that whoever had put the generator beneath his bed hadn’t left prints. He stopped as one of the search and rescue guys pulled him to a halt.
“We need to call it off for tonight, sir,” the man said. “It’s too dark and it’s too dangerous for my men to keep walking the banks . We’ll start up again at first light.”
Jim nodded. Stopping was the last thing he wanted to do but at the same time he was more sure than ever they wouldn’t find Blair, alive or dead, along the banks of the river. If someone had taken him they probably just dumped his car there to throw off anyone looking for him. “I’m going to head back to my apartment,” he told the man. “If someone’s taken my partner they might call me there.” He called Simon and got an update that consisted of nothing new then apprised his captain of his plans.
“Okay,” Simon said. “I’ll send tech support so they can set up a track and trace on your phone, just in case.”
Jim agreed. This was no time to play the Lone Ranger. If whoever had taken Blair called with a ransom or some other demand, he’d need all the help he could get.
“Hey, Sandburg, get your ass out here! Hurry up!”
“Coming, Boss.” Blair climbed cautiously down from the ladder he’d been perched on top of, stacking the top shelves. Heart in his mouth, wondering what he could possibly have screwed up barely into his first shift on the job, he ran into the manager’s office.
Dave Higgins, Blair’s new boss, pointed a meaty finger at the TV he was watching. “Isn’t that your car?” he asked.
“My car’s out in the lot,” Blair replied but he stepped closer to the screen as a familiar face came into view. “Jim?”
“Shh, they’re recapping what happened,” Dave said as a reporter’s face replaced Jim’s on the screen.
“Police have verified that the car belongs to Mr. Blair Sandburg, a former teaching assistant at Rainier University. So far Mr. Sandburg’s body has not been recovered but police divers are speculating that it may wash up along the river bank by morning. You may recall Mr. Sandburg was at the center of a news story just a couple of months ago when he held a press conference to say he’d falsified his thesis…”
The woman’s words faded into the background as the camera switched away from her and showed first Blair’s car and then Jim again. Blair swallowed hard. Jim’s face looked etched with worry, his eyes filled with grief.
“You all right, kid? You’ve gone white as a sheet.”
Blair nodded numbly at Dave’s question. “That’s my boyfriend and he thinks I’m dead.”
Dave just shook his head then turned and grabbed his phone from his desk. “Here, you better give him a call then.”
Blair called Simon’s cell rather than the loft. Jim had looked in shock enough. Already cursing himself for not just letting Jim in on what he was doing, Blair waited till Simon picked up then blurted out, “Simon, hey, it’s Blair. Don’t hang up, man. I’m not dead. Really.”
“What the hell? Sandburg? Is this really you? Where the hell are you? We found your car in the river. We thought you were dead. What happened?”
Blair took a deep breath and let the rush of Simon’s questions flow over him. “Listen, Simon, it’s all a big misunderstanding. I’m at work at Walmart doing a night fill job. Looks like my car was stolen out of the lot while I was inside. Listen, man, can you come get me? I really want to get home and let Jim know I’m okay. I was gonna call him but the way he looked on the news coverage…” Blair took in a shaky breath.
“Yeah, I’ll come get you. Sandburg, I never thought I’d be so glad to hear your voice. You hang in there. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”
Blair handed the phone back to Dave. “I’m sorry. I know I haven’t finished my shift—”
“Forget it, kid. Get home and let everyone know you’re okay. I’ll keep the job for you. You’re a good worker. It’s not easy to find someone who wants to work these hours leading up to the holidays.” Dave patted him on the shoulder and walked him out to the exit doors then left him there to wait for Simon.
When Simon’s car pulled up, Blair scurried over and climbed into the passenger seat. “Before you say anything, let me explain,” he said.
“I’m so damn glad to see you’re alive you can do pretty much anything you want to right now,” Simon said. “Answer me one thing first because it’s driving me crazy. If you weren’t kidnapped, who the hell put the white noise generator under the bed?”
Blair raised his hand. “That would be me,” he said shamefacedly, “but at the time I thought it was for a good reason…”
By the time they’d pulled up in front of the loft, Blair had explained everything and Simon was grinning and shaking his head as they climbed out of the car and headed inside. “You know Jim’s probably gonna rip you a new one for this, Sandburg,” he said as they got into the elevator and made the trip up.
“I’m hoping he might forgive come Christmas morning when he sees the new knife set I got him,” Blair replied hopefully.
Simon gave him a shove forward as he hesitated when the elevator doors opened on his and Jim’s floor. “Hopefully he’ll be happy enough with them he won’t use them on you,” he said. He raised a hand to knock then shook his head and lowered his hand as the sound of running footsteps could be heard from the other side of the door.
The door was yanked open and then Blair was in Jim’s arms. “Chief! I knew it, I just knew you weren’t dead!” Jim kissed the top of Blair’s head then tilted his head back and kissed his mouth deeply.
“Ahem,” Simon said.
“Sorry, Simon,” Jim and Blair said at the same time.
“Um, Jim, you wanna let me breathe here?” Blair said, smiling as Jim released him from his arms then grabbed his hand and pulled him into the living room, pushing him down onto the loveseat there.
“What the hell happened?” Jim asked.
Simon sighed, patted Jim on the back then called out to the tech guys seated at the kitchen table. “Get your gear together, guys. False alarm. Thank goodness.”
“I can’t believe you did all that just so you could buy me some chef’s knives,” Jim said as they lay in bed later. He pulled Blair more closely into his arms.
“Hey, desperate measures, man.” Blair sighed and reached up to pull Jim down for a long, slow kiss. “I’m sorry. I honestly had no idea this would happen. My poor car…”
“Is probably fixable,” Jim said. “As for the person who stole it, who knows? They haven’t turned up a body yet. Looks like he got away clean.”
“I really hope he made it out okay,” Blair replied.
Jim laughed. “Only you could hope that the person who stole your car and caused all this drama was okay, Chief.” He rolled onto his back and pulled Blair on top of him. “No wonder I love you so much. But no more sneaking out and leaving white noise generators under the bed. If you want to keep the job, I'm fine with it as long as you don't wear yourself out burning the candle at both ends.”
Blair kissed the tip of Jim’s nose. “Fair enough. Love ya back,” he said. “Now how about I show you just how grateful I am for that laptop?” He wiggled down and began a thorough oral appreciation of Jim’s cock.
Jim gasped. “I may have to buy you one every Christmas if this is the way you say thank you,” he said.
“Merry early Christmas, Jim.”