A Couple of What?
by cmshaw
30 April 1998

Spoilers: Promo for 'Neighborhood Watch'

Summary: Sorry, but after that laughable promo (laugh or you'll cry) I just couldn't resist. The title says it all.

Disclaimers: I'd like to think that this is closer to the spirit of next week's ep than UPN's attempt, but the fact remains that when the dust settles UPN and Pet Fly will own the boys (and the new girl) and I'll be left all alone again with the work I ought to be doing.

Warning: Don't take this seriously or you could hurt youself.

"Ellison," said Simon, waving his cigar at the tall detective standing in front of his desk, "I want you to work with Conner on this."

Jim looked from his captain to the woman standing next to him, then to his partner perched on the edge of the table behind her, then back to Simon. "Sir, Sandburg and I already have cover stories planned; we're ready to go in, and too many people working on this will just increase the problems with coordinating everything."

"Simon, man, I can do this," added Blair.

"Not this time, Sandburg," said Simon. "Jim, this will work best with you and Conner going in as a couple."

"As a couple of what?" asked Jim.

Simon growled. "A couple of newlyweds."

"What? There's no need for that!"

"But look," insisted Megan, "if you and Sandburg go in by yourselves the dealers will think you're gay. They're expecting honeymooning couples."

Jim and Blair exchanged glances and shrugged. "So?" Jim asked. "I'll be buying the merchandise, not looking for a date."

Simon groaned. "She's making a good point, Ellison. Let's not ask for trouble here, okay?"

"Come on, man--" Blair began, but Simon cut him off.

"Sandburg, contraband arms dealers are not known for their open-minded acceptance of alternative lifestyles."

"Simon, 'alternative lifestyles' is not--"

Blair was interrupted again. "No, Chief, they've got a point." Jim held up his hand to hold off his partner's reaction. "We can argue the semantics later. Conner's right, she'd be useful cover on this." The set of his jaw said clearly, 'I don't like this at all, but I'll accept it for now.'

"Thank you," Megan said sarcastically. She hesitated a moment, then said, quickly but in a more polite tone, "How long have you two been together, anyway?"

Jim shrugged. "Two and a half years."

The two detectives and the police observer jumped when Captain Banks nearly choked on his coffee. Jim moved quickly around the desk to pound his friend on the back. "Sir...?"

"Jim," said Simon, putting his mug carefully beside his computer, "I think she was, um, asking about off-duty arrangements."

"You mean living together?" Jim shot a puzzled frown at Blair. "Almost as long, but why are you asking? We'll be on the other side of town -- no need to use our own apartments for this assignment."

"Ellison!" Simon's face was flushed. "She means you and Sandburg, as a couple, and so help me God if you say 'a couple of what?' the answer's going to be 'a couple of guys who'll be directing traffic all summer.'"

"As a couple?" Jim and Blair repeated in shocked unison.

"Simon, we're not--" Jim began.

"Whoa, man, where are you getting that idea?" demanded Blair.

Megan was looking from one to the other, plainly surprised. "You mean you're not gay?" she said.

Jim looked at Blair. Blair looked at Jim. Both seemed to be waiting for the other to speak first. Finally, Jim cleared his throat and said awkwardly, "We're not a couple."

"Oh," Megan said. "I thought... but I guess not." Silence fell between the four occupants of the room again. "So I'll meet you after lunch to discuss the case, okay?" she said after a long moment.

"One o'clock, then," replied Jim. He had turned to follow her out of Simon's office, Blair right behind him, when Simon called his name. "Captain?" he asked, stopping in the doorway.

Simon considered him for several seconds, then waved him on. "Nothing."

Jim shrugged and held the door open for Blair to pass him. The two of them wended their way through the bullpen to the elevators in silence.

"So," Blair said, and stopped. "Lunch at Chen's Garden?"

Jim shrugged and hit the down button.

"Jim," Blair tried again, bouncing in place lightly. "You, uh, never answered Conner's question."

Jim looked at his partner. "I didn't want her, or Simon, getting the wrong impression, that's all, Chief." They stepped into the elevator as the doors opened; Blair pressed 'lobby'. "And anyway," Jim lowered his voice slightly, "you know I'm not really out at the station."

"Actually, big guy, you're so not out that I didn't even know."

Jim spun around to stare at Blair, who was still bouncing up and down nervously. His mouth opened and closed a few times. Eventually, he said, "Oh. Oh, well, I guess I'm just so used to you knowing everything about me that I just assumed... that you knew..." He trailed off as they arrived at the street level and exited the elevator. He stopped with his hand on the front door. "But you... but--"

Blair pushed the door open and ducked past Jim's outstretched arm onto the sidewalk. "Come on," he said, putting his hand on Jim's elbow to guide him out the door. "No, Jim, I had no idea, actually," he continued as they walked down the street. No one was nearby, but his voice lowered too. "So you're bi," he said, almost casually.

"Yeah," Jim said.

"Wow," Blair said.

Jim glanced at the man walking (skipping, almost) down the street beside him. "You're okay with it, then?"

"Oh yeah, man. I mean, I just never thought-- well. This I need to think about."

"Why?" Jim asked quietly. "Aren't you bi too?"

Blair hesitated, then said in a rush, "Yeah, and man, if I'd known you you were family I'd've made a pass at you years ago. I can't believe I wasted all this time thinking you were straight." He blushed rather abruptly, and studied the pavement under his feet.

"Y'know, Chief," Jim said in a slightly strangled tone of voice, "and here I've been assuming that you've been turning down all my passes because you just weren't interested in me."

Blair grabbed Jim's arm again and dragged him to the side. Collapsing onto the second step of a short flight of stairs leading to an old apartment building's front door, the grad student leaned back and started laughing. "Man," he gasped, "that is so not true, I just-- oh--" He tugged at Jim's arm until the detective sat down on the steps with him. "Jim," he said, "Jim, oh gods..."

"What?" Jim growled, looking like he couldn't decide whether to worry or start laughing himself.

"How about we stop being a couple of idiots and start being a couple?"

Jim ducked his head and shook with silent laughter. When he looked up again, finally meeting Blair's eyes, the goofy grin plastered across his face pretty much spoke for itself. "Sounds good to me, partner. Sounds good to me."


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