OK, my muses are here and in fine fettle. I'm working on two other stories, but the other computer doesn't communicate with this one any more. So, I guess I'll just have to write this story here.
The standard disclaimers still apply, and I still am grateful to the proper owners and creators for their hard work and kindness in not suing me for the use of their creations.
This one contains some spoilers for 'The Real Deal'. Nothing major, just something I noticed that no one else has commented on, yet.
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"Hey, you got any pork chops?" Vince Deal asked, searching the freezer.
Jim and Blair exchanged startled looks, then, laughing, Jim replied, "Oh, sure, Vince..."
"Yeah, right next to the whale meat." Blair chortled as an addendum.
Jim gave Blair a 'what the hell's wrong with him' look and muttered "Pork chops?" As though he added 'In this house?' Only he didn't say it out loud. Throwing down their napkins, the Sentinel and his Guide rose from the table, leaving behind the horrid mess Vince Deal had made of their breakfast, their kitchen, and their lives...
I can't believe how easily Blair's managed to change my life. I mean, three years ago, Vince probably would have found pork in my freezer. I think that was one of the first things he changed. It was such an easy thing to give in to. I mean, after all, it's his religion...
"Uh, Jim?" Blair asked tentatively. He'd said he'd only be imposing on him for a week, but that had been six months ago. They were still a little tentative in their relationship, but they were working on it. Quite well, actually.
"Yeah?" Jim didn't even look up from his newspaper.
"Uh, I've got a little problem, here, man." He wasn't sure how to broach the subject, but knew that he needed to, and soon.
Looking up, Jim's brows drew down in concern, it sounded serious... "What's wrong, Chief?"
"Well," Blair was looking at the contents of the freezer. "Um, well... Uh..."
"Spit it out, Sandburg." Jim chided, gently. "Whatever it is, I promise I won't bite your head off."
"OK. Can I throw out this pork you have in the freezer? It's been there since I don't know when and, well, Idon'teatpork'causeit'sagainstmyreligionandit'snotreallyall thatgoodforyou,socanIpleasethrowitout?" He held his breath, waiting for the answer.
Jim frowned, first because he had to decipher what the younger man had said with his machinegun delivery, then a little longer while he considered the ramifications of his consent. Thinking back, he couldn't even remember the last time he'd eaten any pork, other than the occasional sausage or bacon; and he'd noticed that the 'bacon' that Blair served was made from beef, and the 'sausage' was made from turkey.
"Sure, go ahead. No problem." And with that, he turned back to his paper and never noticed the sigh and expression of relief that flooded his roommate's countenance.
That had been three years ago. So much had changed since then. They'd grown, their relationship had flourished, bringing mostly good things to both of their lives. Some bad times, as well, but for the most part, neither man was sorry for the time they'd been together. Jim grinned to himself as he thought of all the other changes he'd made to accommodate his friend. Even to eating weird stuff. Now, three years later, the bacon was vegetarian and the sausage was still turkey, but sometimes, it too, was vegetarian. He pretended not to notice, but, well, he was a Sentinel, after all.
Oh, man. I am like so glad Jim didn't say anything. I mean, it was one thing to get him to accept a porkless kitchen. It's another thing entirely to have snuck in the rest of the dietary laws on him. He doesn't seem to have noticed. Although, he does still have a cheeseburger once in a while. At least we don't do it here. Blair laughed with Jim at Vince's request for pork chops, and Jim had seemed surprised that anyone would ever ask. But, that was a good thing, right? I wonder if he realizes that the bacon in the refrigerator is really vegan strips? Or that half the sausage links in the freezer are also vegan, mixed in with turkey? Shit. Who am I trying to kid? The man's a Sentinel, for God's sake. Of course he knows. I wonder why he puts up with it? I mean, after all, he's always trying to grab a greasy cheeseburger...or is he? Blair watched his partner as he drove, consideringly. Come to think of it, he hasn't had a cheeseburger in over...wow. I can't remember the last time. I wonder why? And he hasn't complained once in the past six months...hell. He hasn't complained once since we got back from Sierra Verde....His expression became concerned and he examined his friend more closely, nah. He'd know if Jim were just humoring him...wouldn't he? He squirmed a little in discomfort, wondering if Jim had stopped eating things he liked out of guilt...
For the rest of the trip to the station, Blair worried, wondering if his fears were founded.
The bad guys were in jail. Vince had a chance at a new career. Connor and Sandburg were safe. All was right in Jim's world. Well, almost. He emptied the grocery bag. He'd been thinking all day about how quietly and gently Blair had changed his life. How good life was with a friend he could count on by his side and covering his back. He pulled the last item from the bag, set it on the counter and folded up the bag and put it away for later use as a trash can liner. Reading the instructions on the package, he called out to his roommate.
"Hey, Chief? How do you cook these garden burger things?"
Blair looked up in shock. "What?!?" he squeaked in his dumbfoundedness.
"Garden burgers, Chief. I thought we could try them." Jim watched his friend for his reaction. He'd known all along that Blair had been slowly changing his diet to something much healthier. He'd resisted strongly, at first, but as he discovered (albeit slowly), healthy didn't necessarily mean tasteless. In fact, he had discovered that he liked a lot of the weird stuff Blair fed him, once he got over the smell. That had been the biggest hurdle. But once accepted, he found that the 'weird' stuff Blair fed him made him feel good, that he had more energy than before. So, he'd accepted the changes. Well, except for the algae shakes. He just couldn't get over the smell of the spirolina. Yuck. Now, however, since he'd noticed that Blair had finally noticed that he'd noticed the changes Blair had made in his diet, it was time for him to come out and admit that the changes were OK. What better way than to bring in something new and volunteer for an obviously healthier dinner? He was perfectly aware that Blair had slowly weaned him from hamburger to turkeyburger. Not that he'd tell his friend in just so many words, but still... "So, how do you want your garden burger, Chief? Grilled or baked?" Not even thinking of offering fried. Not even in the olive oil that Blair had switched them to.
"Uh, grilled, I guess." Blair came into the kitchen to watch as his friend read the directions on the box and prepared the broiler to grill the vegetarian burgers.
Over dinner, Blair watched as his friend slowly cut into his burger and then sniffed it for a moment before taking a bite. Watched as Jim slowly chewed, obviously pulling every tiny bit of taste from the food. Watched the contented smile cross his friend's face.
"Jim? Are you OK?" You're acting really weird, man. I'm about to start searching for pods. His concern obviously alerted his roommate.
"I'm fine. I just decided that it was time to admit the truth."
"Truth, Jim?" Blair worried.
"Yeah. I like garden burgers. I like the vegetarian bacon. I like turkey sausage. I like the vegetarian sausage. I don't mind the weird stuff you cook. Hell, I like tongue, don't I?" He didn't even try to stifle the laugh at the expression on Blair's face. "Look, Chief. I finally realized when Vince asked for pork chops, just how much you've changed everything. I mean, who ever thought I'd keep a kosher kitchen?"
"Well, um. It's not really Kosher, Jim."
The older man looked at him in surprise. "We don't mix meat and milk. We don't eat shellfish. We don't eat pork. We only buy condiments that have that little k in the circle that means that it's kosher. So, what's not kosher about our kitchen?"
"Well, to really be Kosher, we'd have to have two sets of dishes and pots and pans."
"Why?" Jim asked, shocked at the apparent waste of money.
"Because to be totally Kosher, you can't use the same dishes, pots, or pans for both milk and meat." Blair told him. "However, for a Goy, you keep a pretty kosher kitchen." Blair's smile lit the room. "And I thank you for it."
Jim stared at his friend for a moment, then took another bite of his burger. "You're welcome." Yeah, he kind of liked this healthy stuff. And the Kosher wasn't bad, either. But there was no way he was going to get two sets of everything. Not even for Blair.
And Blair hid his smile behind his own burger. Pleased that his Sentinel had figured it all out and still didn't seem to mind. Now, if he could just figure out some way to circumvent the house rules....
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