Rice Paper

Can you hear my heart
beating in tune with your own
same one

Blair stared at the ceiling. The words kept repeating themselves, had been ever since he'd formed the haiku in his head. He was lying on his bed, staring up at where his roommate would be lying if Jim was home in bed. Blair knew the exact spot of his bedroom ceiling that separated him from his partner's sleeping form. He hadn't meant to figure it out so exactly, but once he'd wondered it he hadn't paused until he'd measured it off.

That had been weeks ago. Now he knew which spot to look at; his eyes drifted to it whenever he laid down. He sometimes felt like painting a large "X" there, but that would sort of be hard to explain away. It was a sure bet Jim would realize what the X meant and ask why Blair cared to know exactly where he was sleeping.

He didn't really need the X, anyway. He knew the spot. Sometimes at night he would lie in bed for hours, watching in the darkness, imagining he could hear his sentinel's heartbeat coming through the wood and plaster. Once he'd crawled out of bed and, quietly as he could, walked over to the chair he'd moved earlier and climbed up and touched his hand to the spot. He'd closed his eyes and listened, felt for Jim's heartbeat.

It hadn't worked, of course. A few moments later he'd felt like an idiot and had climbed down, praying Jim wouldn't come or call down what in the world was he doing. He'd gone to lie in bed again, heart pounding. It had taken several whispered mantras to calm himself enough to eventually fall asleep. He'd dreamt of Jim. He usually did.

Tonight Jim wasn't home, and Blair was restless. He knew where his partner was -- out with Stephen, a sure bet he wouldn't end up meeting some pretty woman and inviting her home. Jim preferred spending his evenings with Stephen catching up on lost time, and so they usually ended up going places where pretty women wouldn't bother them. Usually a sports bar.

Blair had tried to spend his evening studying, but of course it didn't work. After an hour of re- reading the same article and still not being sure what it was the paper was arguing for, he had set it aside and let his mind wander. It didn't wander far -- it went right to Jim, and stayed there. Jim had touched him again that morning. On the face, patting his cheek. Blair knew it didn't mean anything. Knew, rather, that it didn't mean anything more than Jim touched those around him, those he trusted, those he liked.

One time Blair spent a week noticing and cataloguing just who, and in what circumstances, Jim touched other people. Apprehending a suspect didn't count, of course, neither did threatening or fending off a suspect. Once he ruled out all counts of self-defense, justified assaults, and accidental touches like those in crowded elevators, Blair noticed that Jim actually rarely touched anybody. Except him.

Maybe Jim just didn't trust that many people. Maybe he didn't have the opportunity to touch those did trust. That didn't explain why he'd started doing it a only a week after he'd met Blair -- but Blair had saved his life less than half an hour after their second meeting so perhaps that had been it.

But it wasn't like Blair was the only person he touched, so Blair wasn't able to come to any untoward conclusions concerning Jim's behavior. It had, however, given him the beginning of a habit he was starting to regret. Zeroing in on every single time Jim touched him was encouraging thoughts he had been trying hard not to encourage. He'd tried for a day or so to fight it, then he'd given it up as a lost cause and thought.

Thought about Jim's hands, caressing his face. Jim's body resting against his own. Jim's eyes, staring at him like Blair was his entire world. Jim's voice, whispering in his ear that he loved him...

That was what had brought Blair to his room this evening. He'd been thinking those things, sitting on the couch with his anthropology papers scattered all over the coffee table. He'd had to jump up and run for the bathroom -- sentinel senses had a damnable way of detecting when you jerked off in the living room. Blair had taken a quick and exhausting shower, then crawled into bed to stare at the ceiling.

He'd wondered what would happen if he told Jim how he felt. He didn't think any of the things he was dreaming about would happen, nor did he think Jim would freak out on him. Probably Jim would apologize and ask if Blair needed a little more space, needed Jim to not touch him quite so often.

That was not going to happen. Not if Blair had anything to say about it. So he didn't say anything. It was hard, sometimes to not tell anyone how he felt. Blair laughed at himself, realizing that he didn't want to not tell anyone. He loved Jim, loved him so much he needed to say something. He didn't want to risk revealing how he felt, but still he had to share it.

It made for an odd dichotomy, and one which threatened to keep him awake for the remainder of the night if he didn't solve it. He needed to express how he felt, but he needed to keep how he felt hidden from Jim. Or anyone who might tell Jim about it.

That was when the haiku formed itself in his head. One line at a time, presenting themselves until Blair knew he would have to write them down. Maybe if he did he'd be free of this overwhelming need to speak them out loud. He even knew how to keep those written words secret. During one of the many travels his mother had taken them on, they'd ended up in Kyoto. Blair had loved it, as he had loved all the cultures and foreign lands they'd lived in. He had soaked up the customs of those around him like a sponge, like an eager child.

He hadn't hung on to many of them; in the years since he'd replaced them with others, more recent or more dear. But he still had some, and it would present him with his solution. He got out of bed and went to his desk. Unpacking one of the drawers, he finally found a few rolls of paper. Rice paper, purchased in Seattle nearly two years ago. He took them and the ink case beneath them, and sat down at his desk.

Half an hour later he was dusting the paper with sand, soaking up the majority the drying ink. He blew the sand into the trash can, then set the paper down. His hand was a little shaky, the characters not as clear as they had been when he was nine. But he was simply encouraged to find he remembered enough of the characters to set his poem down. Actually, he'd had to change it a little, to fit what he did remember. But it still said what the first one said.

He left it there, and went out of his room to begin dinner. His heart felt lighter and the room around him, a little warmer.


He was woken by his partner sitting down on the bed. It wasn't an odd thing to happen, but it did give him pause. Blair looked at Jim, waking himself up and ready for trouble. The expression on his partner's face registered, and he leaned back, confused. "Jim? What's up, man?"

Jim wasn't in any sort of trouble. He was sitting there, looking at him like he was amazed. Amused. One of the two. Possibly both. Finally he simply said, "Blair?"

"Are you stoned, Jim?" It was the first most logical explanation. Nevermind Jim wouldn't be stoned, at least not intentionally.

Jim smiled and shook his head. He looked almost normal, except for that expression on his face. The way he kept staring at Blair like....

"Uhh... can I help you?" Blair tried not to squirm. If Jim kept doing this, he was going to embarrass himself. Grab Jim's hand and shove it under the blanket.

"Did you mean what you said?"

The question didn't immediately make sense. Blair narrowed his eyes, wondering what he'd done to himself, now. "When? What did I say?" He tried to think of all the things he'd said to his partner recently.

"Tonight. There." Jim nodded his head. Blair followed where he'd indicated, and froze. On the desk was his haiku. Nothing but his haiku. He'd had to clean the desktop to keep from getting ink on everything.

"I.... I didn't think you could read Kanji, Jim."

"I can. Does that mean you were--"

"No." Blair interrupted. He had to. Jim's tone had gone from wonder to so flat, so rejected, that Blair found himself telling the truth before he could decide to. "I meant it. I just wasn't expecting you... to know."

Jim reached over and touched Blair's cheek, cupping it with his hand. Blair looked at him. "I can, you know. I am, too. I always was." Then Jim leaned down, and kissed him.

Can you sense my love
my heart beat is yours
I am yours