The Holiday Slash Fic Archive
// F i c //

Holiday: Christmas
Fandom: The Sentinel
Category: male/male

Rating: G
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: A sweet Christmas story for the guys.

The Gift of Christmas
by Suze777 and HLEmpress1

Jim watched as his unusually silent partner leaned forward in the cab of the truck and switched the radio station yet again. Another Christmas carol squelched in favor of anything, it appeared. Apparently the anthropologist would rather listen to Garth Brooks than any song having to do with the upcoming holiday. Blair returned to reading the book in his lap, his actions more habit than conscious. He burrowed deeper in his coat and shivered, the cab of the truck was becoming increasingly colder as night descended.

The Christmas lights in the neighborhood began to light up, drawing Jim's gaze from the house which was the target of their stake-out. Other than the tree in the front picture window, the house Jim was supposed to be watching was undecorated. So boring compared to the others on that block. There were houses with plastic reindeer hauling a sleigh and Santa on the lawn, others with lights dripping from the trees and bushes, and yet others with lights blinking as if chasing each other around the windows.

"Hey, Jim!" His partner's exclamation cut through the fog that had descended on Jim he zoned on the lights blinking in the increasing darkness. "Isn't that Pelletier getting in the car?"

"Shit!" Jim quickly picked up the radio. "Subject is on the move. Headed north up Elm Street." He started the truck and sat, waiting to make sure Brown picked up and followed.

Brown's voice came over the radio. "We got him over here on Talbot, Jim. Why don't you take off now? Your shift is over and Rafe and I will babysit him for the rest of the night." Jim smiled as he heard Rafe chuckling in the background. "You know this guy leads a most exciting life. I can't wait to spend another night sitting outside the Bingo Hall."

Jim picked up the microphone and replied, "Yeah, when he's not arranging shipments of stolen merchandise for the Mancini family."

Brown's laughed boomed over the radio. "Gotcha, Jim. We'll keep our eyes peeled. You and Hairboy have a great night. Go Christmas shopping or something."

"See you tomorrow, H." Jim turned up the heat which quickly brought a blast of warmth into the cab of the truck. His partner immediately yanked off his gloves and proceeded to thaw his hands in the warm stream of air. Jim smiled to himself. It was only about 40 degrees outside, yet Blair always acted as if they were enduring an arctic winter.

"So, whaddya say, Chief? Dinner? Christmas shopping?"

"Dinner, man." Blair replied. "I'm starved. How about that new Thai place?"

Jim nodded as he pulled out. "Sounds good to me." They drove in silence for a few minutes, the darkened cab occasionally lit with reflections of brightly decorated houses. "What would you think about putting up a tree this year, Chief? In the loft, I mean."

Blair quickly glanced over at the detective and then turned his head to gaze out the window. "If it's all the same to you, I'd rather not. What we did last year worked for me."

"We didn't do anything last year, Chief. I worked. You studied. No tree. No Christmas."

"Yeah, well, like I said, it worked for me." Blair replied, almost under his breath, although the Sentinel heard every word.

"I'm not working this year. Simon is finally forcing me to use the holiday time since I have so much built up. I thought we might do a little something together." Jim looked over at his partner then back to the road. "A tree, some lights, maybe a few presents..." His voice trailed off, hoping to entice the younger man with thoughts of gifts.

"Whatever you want to do is fine with me, Jim. It's your place, you know?"

Jim was silent for a moment. Last year they had only been living together for a few months when Christmas rolled around. He had been so tied up in a case and dealing with his out of control senses, he hadn't really noticed how his subdued his normally effervescent partner became during the holiday season. Now, faced with Mr. Personality Change, he was remembering just how low Sandburg had gotten last year.

"I thought it was our place, Chief." Jim said quietly.

Blair sighed. "Sorry, man. It's just this whole Christmas thing is so stupid. People get all keyed up, spend too much money, and then it's all just a big let down. And the commercialism takes all the meaning out of it anyway. I would just rather not get involved."

"It was just an idea," Jim replied as they pulled into the parking lot of the Thai Palace. "Let's go get some chow, OK, buddy?"

"I'm so there, Big Guy," Blair hopped out of the truck. "I could eat a Giant Anaconda. Come to think of it, I have eaten a Giant Anaconda. Hey, did I ever tell you about the time..."

Jim rolled his eyes, and followed his gesticulating partner into the restaurant. He was glad to have his cheerful partner back, if only for a little while.

Late that night, Jim lay in his darkened bedroom, focusing on the steady heartbeat of his partner. Blair had finally dropped off, after tossing and turning for an hour. He had not only kept himself awake, his Blessed Protector was also unable to sleep. But it was Jim who felt guilty. Somehow he knew it was his talk of Christmas that upset the younger man.

He had brought up the subject one more time at dinner, only to be frozen out by Blair. The remainder of dinner was quiet and Blair went right to his room when they arrived home. Jim spent the evening watching TV alone. It was times like these that he realized how much a part of his life his Guide had become. The best part, he admitted to himself.

Blair had brought life and light to his stark world. After Peru and then the disaster of his marriage to Carolyn, Jim knew he had withdrawn into himself. When his Sentinel abilities had come back on line, he thought he was going crazy and he had no one to turn to. Simon, now a friend, at the time was his boss, and an unsympathetic one at that.

Jim had many friends now, and he attributed that to his own change in attitude. One that had come about because of Blair Sandburg. The anthropologist had entered his life as his teacher and Guide, and he slowly wormed his way into Jim's loft, his job, and yes, his heart. Blair was the best friend he had ever had and probably ever would have. He drew Jim back into life and made his house a home.

Now that the loft was home to Jim, he really wanted to celebrate Christmas. With Blair. He hadn't really celebrated the holiday since his mother left when he was twelve. The holiday had meant so much to her. To Jim, it meant celebrating home and family, two things he hadn't had for many years.

Christmas obviously had very negative connotations to his partner. Jim was a very private person and always respected the privacy of others. Except something was very wrong here. He knew Blair Sandburg well and the way he was acting was not like him and Jim wanted to know why. Hopefully he could make things better, or at least more tolerable for his friend.

Jim woke to the smell of pancakes, bacon, and Blair-fresh from the shower-scent. He inhaled deeply enjoying the effect on his senses, smells and sounds creating a peaceful picture in his head...


Jim shot up in bed, quickly realizing he had drifted off again. "What the hell...?"

An overly cheerful voice rose from the lower floor along with another loud metallic clang. "Time to rise and shine, Big Guy! You're gonna be late!"

From the sound of his voice, Sandburg was enjoying their role reversal this morning. Perhaps a bit too much. Jim chuckled softly and pulled himself to the top of the bed. Sitting up quickly, he aimed his pillow at his Guide's unsuspecting head and let it fly.

"Hey!!!" Blair rubbed his head, only to be hit with a second fluffy missile. Laughing, he ran for the couch, taking cover and pulling off a cushion to use as a shield. He grabbed a throw pillow and took aim at the figure looming on the second floor. "Direct hit!" he crowed, only to be hit with a third pillow. And the war was on.

"The bacon's about the burn, Chief!" Jim called, laughing and dodging another pillow. He glanced at the clock. "I really am late!" He was still chuckling as he watched his Guide slide across the floor in his stocking feet in his rush to save their breakfast. Sitting back on the bed, Jim was more determined than ever to show Blair what Christmas should be. He just had to get rid of the ghost of Blair's Christmas past.

Jim sat in the truck holding his now silent cell phone. He had just hung up after talking to Naomi Sandburg. It took him eight calls to find her, but he finally located her at a retreat in Northern California. She hadn't been surprised to hear from him, especially when he asked her about Blair and his feelings about Christmas.

This was not quite what he had expected. Naomi blatantly admitted that they had never really celebrated Christmas, even though young Blair had apparently desired it above all things. Naomi said they never stayed in one place long enough and they always seemed to end up in foreign countries at that time of year. To Jim, it sounded like she was merely justifying it to herself, but he kept quiet.

Then, the one year they were in the United States, they were settled in Chicago with her then current live-in boyfriend. Blair desperately wanted a puppy and Naomi finally gave in and went to the pound and adopted one. Naomi explained that the puppy was kept in the basement for the two days leading up to Christmas. What she didn't know at the time was that Blair had found the puppy and spent much of those two days playing and bonding with the puppy, which he named Nicky.

Naomi said they woke up Christmas morning to find that the furnace had stopped working. The house had gotten cold during the night, but no place was as cold as the basement. Not thinking, Naomi had bundled up an excited and chattering Blair, who finally admitted he knew about Nicky, and they went to the basement. Blair ran downstairs and found his puppy, who had died during the night from the cold. He had picked up the small, stiff animal and asked Naomi what was wrong with him. Naomi cried as she relayed this part of the story. She admitted she had never seen anything like the look on her son's face when he realized his beloved Nicky was dead.

Christmas was never the same for Blair after that. Naomi explained that they left the suburban life style behind, along with the boyfriend in Chicago, shortly after the incident and resumed their nomadic ways, Christmas always falling by the wayside. Jim fumed silently as he listened, furious that Naomi had never dealt with Blair's trauma. Apparently his feelings had been allowed to fester through the years and had deprived him of something that Jim knew he deserved: Christmas.

The wheels turned in Jim's head and he knew what he had to do.

Christmas Eve

Blair leaned against the wall of the elevator at 852 Prospect, weary after spending the day doing research. Finals were long over, but he needed to prepare for an even tougher schedule the following semester. He was finally assigned to teach a graduate seminar and was really looking forward to the challenge.

The doors opened and Blair looked at his watch, realizing it was already after midnight. He quietly walked down the hall and put his key in the lock. It didn't matter how quiet he was, he knew Jim would hear him, but he hoped that he could keep the disruption to a minimum.

Opening the door, he stepped inside and gasped. The entire room was filled with lit candles. A beautiful spruce was all decorated with tiny blue and white lights, and there were several gaily wrapped presents under the tree. Blair could smell mulled cider and cinnamon and he saw a buffet spread out on the table. He dropped his backpack on the floor, a clear violation of House Rule 39, and kicked the door shut behind him.

Jim stepped out of the kitchen and leaned against the support beam, wiping his hands with a dish towel. He watched his Guide's face as he surveyed the loft.

"Merry Christmas, Blair." Jim said softly.

Blair started to speak when he heard a sound coming from near the tree. He looked at Jim, who just shrugged and motioned for Blair to go look. Blair walked over to the tree and saw an open box. Inside was a puppy. Small, with dark curly hair and long ears, the puppy looked like a miniature Blair Sandburg.

When the puppy saw Blair, he immediately began yipping and scratching at the side of the box. Blair fell to his knees and simply stared into the box.

Jim stepped up behind his Guide. "Chief?" He kneeled down next to Blair. "Looks like he wants you to pick him up." Jim reached into the box and rubbed the little dog on his tiny head. Jim looked at Blair, whose face was hidden by his hair. "Blair?"

Then he noticed the flannel covered shoulders were shaking. Jim reached over and turned Blair's head to him. His heart broke as he saw the tear filled eyes. He quickly pulled his friend into his embrace and held him as the sobs racked the smaller body. Jim sat back against the couch, bringing Blair with him, and let the younger man rid himself of the grief he had bottled up for so many years.

Finally the storm and fury was over and Blair lay quietly, still leaning against Jim. He raised his arm to wipe his nose on his sleeve, only to have a neatly pressed handkerchief thrust into his hand. "Don't use your sleeve." Jim instructed quietly.

Blair chuckled and then was quiet again, only the sniffing sounds broke the silence. "How did you know?" he asked, his voice slightly hoarse.

"Naomi" Jim answered.

Blair just nodded. "Why did you go to all this trouble?"

Jim was silent for a moment, thinking. He took a deep breath then answered.

"I wanted to give you back Christmas. It was stolen from you years ago and you deserve it more than anyone that I know." Jim turned to face Blair and looked at the beloved tear swollen face. "You're my best friend. And...I love you."

Blair smiled brightly. "I love you too, man."

Jim didn't return the smile. He reached out and caressed Blair's face. The younger man's eyes widened. "I'm in love with you, Blair Sandburg." He leaned over and gently kissed the stunned man.

Blair was startled for a moment then pressed closer, opening his lips and turning the simple meeting of lips into something more. Jim's hands came up and he laced his fingers through Blair's soft curls, holding his head. Both men were panting when they parted, each looking deeply into the others eyes.

A sharp sound startled them both as they looked towards the source. The puppy, who had briefly fallen asleep, was now awake and demanding attention.

"He's all yours, Chief." Jim smiled, nodding towards the box.

"You mean he's not rented?" Blair asked, only half joking.

"Of course he's not rented!" Jim exclaimed. "What do you think I am?"

"An anal retentive neat freak who I can't imagine ever owning any pet, let alone a puppy?"

Jim playfully cuffed his Guide on the head, laughing at the affectionate insult. He watched with glowing eyes as Blair carefully reached in and pulled out the small, excited body. Bringing the small dog to his face, Blair was rewarded with licks and puppy kisses. He laughed and cuddled the dog, who was more than happy to cuddle back.

Blair looked up at Jim who was watching him with a soft smile. "Thank you," he said, tears gathering in his eyes again. "For Burton." Blair whispered, lifting the squirmy little puppy, who now had a name. Jim chuckled at his Guide's appropriate choice. "And thank you for giving me back Christmas."

Blair scooted over and snuggled in the arms of his Sentinel, with a sleepy Burton tucked between them.

Burton woke up, expecting to be in the wire cage again, only to find himself warm and comfortable in a darkened room. Afraid for a moment, he whimpered and was quickly scooped up by the long haired man from the night before. The one with the deep voice and the soft touch. Burton was lifted to the top of the bed and cuddled down between his two new owners. He burrowed between the two warm bodies and drifted back to sleep, feeling loved and wanted for the first time in his young life.