Author's disclaimer: Nothing's mine but the words: everything else belongs to Pet Fly. Etc.
Author's notes: For all those who asked for a continuation to Obfuscator, and for Miriam, who helped me end it all. (Goodbye cruel world!)
"Oh," moaned Blair. "Oh. "Oh. "Oh, Jim... "Jim, yes. "Yes. "Ohhhhh.... " — No. "No, don't. "No, Jim, wait!"
"What?" Jim asked. "What is it?"
"I can't, Jim. I just can't do this." Blair was panting, nearly hyperventilating, and Jim clamped down on the sudden piercing pain in his gut and let Sandburg slip out of his arms, grasping fingertips reluctant to release the soft, knit fabric of Sandburg's shirt.
"I care about you, honest — and I want to, really, I do want to," babbled Sandburg as he skittered nervously to the far side of the sofa, holding his hands up, putting distance between them, and Jim closed his eyes, knowing now that it wouldn't, *couldn't* work, preparing to explain to Sandburg that he understood, that there would be no hard feelings, never any hard feelings between them.
"It's just — " Blair continued anxiously, hands fluttering as he pulled his shirt back down over his chest, "it's just not in my nature, you know? I mean — I mean — "
"Blair, it's OK," said Jim quietly, opening his eyes. "You don't have to explain or justify or — "
"No, I do — I do, Jim — I owe you that," said Blair, eyes pleading. "I need you to understand. I mean, I think we've had a major misunderstanding here."
Jim shook his head. "No, please don't," he murmured. "It's me, I should never have — "
"No, wait — just listen, okay?" said Blair. "The thing is," he began, "I know you think I'll fuck anything that moves, I know you think I'd hump a table leg, but I'm not like that, Jim — really I'm not."
Jim cringed with guilt. "Blair, I'm so sorry," he said softly.
"Jim, listen," Blair begged, and his expression was so pained that Jim fell silent. "You think I'm really promiscuous but you don't really know me. You think I'd do anything, do anyone — but I have limits, man! I have standards, principles, ethics — there are things I won't do, Jim."
Blair raised his hands, rubbed his face, then slid his palms back over his hair, pushing it back. Then he looked up at Jim, a sorrowful apology in his eyes. "So I hope you understand why I can't do this. It just — " and here he squeezed his eyes shut, " — it just wouldn't be right to Phil."
Whang! and Jim Ellison thought he'd had sensory spikes before, but fuck! they were nothing like this! nothing the flying fuck like this! and Blair's tumbling words pounded through his brain like a freight train, like the 4:15 through Paddington Station, and he screwed his eyes shut and pressed his hands to his head to prevent his brain from falling out.
"I mean, Phil's always been there for me," explained Blair, pulling his knees up to his chest and hugging them. "Who sat up with me during my many horrible illnesses, waiting for the scabs to fall off, making me take my pills? Phil. He's put up with my kinky tastes, satisfied my most perverse desires, bailed me out of jail and helped me avoid almost certain prosecution for my many nefarious activities. And he went with me every day to counseling, stood by me through thick and thin. That kind of loyalty, Jim — that can't be bought, that's not something you throw away for a fling!"
Jim opened his eyes and squinted at his partner, who was glaring at him from across the sofa.
"And that accident with my penis and the threshing machine?" Blair continued mercilessly, and Jim winced. "I didn't think we'd survive that, but apparently we did. Because he loves me for who I am, Jim. He's a helluva guy, my Phil."
"Oh, god..." Jim muttered softly.
"And, so, I mean, we could do this," said Blair, gesturing toward the sofa, toward the space between them, that space that wasn't there a few minutes ago. "Yeah, sure. Except that it isn't in my nature to be a dirty, stinking, rotten cheater," said Blair, and Jim had no doubt that the adjectives "dirty, stinking, and rotten" were being directed straight at him.
"You wouldn't respect me in the morning," Blair added. "You'd hate me for it eventually. It would always be between us, what we'd done to Phil. And even if it wouldn't," Blair continued, and Jim jerked his head up to stare at his partner. "Even if I could overcome that," continued Blair, "there's still the practicality of the situation." Blair stopped, and his lips twisted wryly and Jim braced himself. "After all, Jim — he's a big guy. And he just might come over here and beat the shit out of you." Blair grinned and waggled his eyebrows triumphantly.
"He's bigger than me?" Jim asked.
"Oh yes," deadpanned Blair. "Much bigger."
Jim considered this. "I could take him," he said, finally.
"I don't know about that," said Blair, doubtfully. "He really is pretty big," and he waved his arms in a way which suggested a hulking giant of a man.
"Well, if he's that's big he doesn't have speed." objected Jim. "I'll outmaneuver him."
"He's really rather surprisingly agile," said Blair. "Trust me on that."
"Oh yeah?" asked Jim. "Strength and speed?"
"Yeah," said Blair. "Plus he's sensitive. And smart — man, you have no idea how smart."
"He sounds perfect," Jim reluctantly conceded.
"Oh, he is. Absolutely perfect," said Blair.
Jim nodded, processing this. Then he turned to Blair and asked, "So do you love him?"
The question seemed to startle his partner. "Love?" Blair echoed questioningly.
"Yeah. You know: love. Do you love him?" asked Jim.
"Love?" Blair repeated.
"Love — L-O-V-E — what part of this aren't you getting?"
Blair chewed his lip thoughtfully. "Love's a big word," he said.
"No, not really," Jim disagreed. "'Obfuscator' is a big word: 'love' is a small word."
"Says you," said Blair irritably. He thought hard for a moment or two and then sighed. "No, I guess I don't really love Phil, when push comes to shove," Blair admitted.
"Well, in that case, I'll take my chances," said Jim, moving closer to him.
"You might get hurt," warned Blair.
"So what else is new?" muttered Jim, sliding a hand up Blair's arm.
"I might get hurt," said Blair tightly, and Jim stopped his hand, knowing that this, finally, was no obfuscation.
"Maybe," said Jim, drawing his hand away. He met Blair's eyes and then added, sincerely, "I hope not."
And they looked at each other for a moment, and the moment stretched out longer and longer until finally Blair Sandburg exhaled and said, simply, "Oh, what the hell," and bent forward to kiss him.
Jim reached out through the haze of the kiss and slid his hands back under Sandburg's shirt, and Blair was warm and hard and smooth to his touch. And they were over the hurdle, he was over the hurdle despite himself, and it was working, now, it was going to work between them, because Sandburg was warm and wonderful and loving and giving and forgiving and —
"Oh," moaned Blair. "Oh. "Oh. "Oh, yes. "Yes! "Yes! "Ohhhhh.... "Yes! Please! Yes!