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Dotty    Kathy    Lvblair    Mary Ellen    Ophelia    KAM    Ronnee    Kathy 'n Mary Ellen 


Family and the Fourth of July

By Mary Ellen


The New Year started with great promise. Crime statistics confirmed that James J. Ellison was in the top ten percent of crime solvers in the nation. Jim was terribly embarrassed by the media attention that came from the article The New York Times published. However, the article did convince the powers that be that Blair Sandburg was a far too valuable a commodity to lose to academia. Jim was most pleased with the development. The Cascade Police Department now employed Blair as a consultant on a part time basis and there was a contract in place to employ him full time as soon as he defended the dissertation. There was an unspoken understanding that, while Blair would consult for the entire department as needed, he would work from Major Crimes. As far as Jim Ellison was concerned, life was pretty good. The only cloud on the horizon was Stephen. Stephen had put off telling his big news to their dad. Since the old man wasn’t talking to him, all of Jim’s news came through Stephen. And Stephen’s love was getting a bit impatient with the situation. Not that Jim blamed him.

Blair Sandburg was jazzed. It was finished. Finally. The damned thing was written and finally edited to the satisfaction of his committee. Changing topics in mid-stream had been way tough. The original committee had quit. Fortunately, Eli Stoddard had come back from Borneo just in time. He had forced the university to acknowledge that the committee had had no business in letting Blair pass his comps the first time with such a thin subject. He had agreed to chair the new committee. Then Eli, wily old fox that he was, worked the system so that professors were privately contacting Blair *requesting* to be on the committee. Things had nearly fallen apart when his mom had found the *old* diss on his hard drive and sent it to Syd. And he’d compounded the problem by not thinking and calling a press conference. Once again Eli had managed to straighten things out. Eli had always hated Chancellor Edwards anyway. Getting rid of the bitch was just gravy as far as Eli was concerned. Rainier had been forced to publicly apologize to both Blair and the Cascade PD. Everyone applauded the courage of the student who put the community’s safety over his own profession and reputation. Syd Graham’s company had paid off the student’s debts and made a nice cash settlement on top. The PD announced their intention to hire the anthropologist full time as soon as he graduated. The publication in the NYT about Jim couldn’t have happened at a better time. Blair would defend his diss the week after the holiday and immediately begin his full time job at the PD. Life was pretty good. Now, if Stephen would just get his act together and confront his dad. It had been nearly six months. Stephen’s SO was *not* going to put up with the situation much longer. Not at all. With a sigh and a smile, Blair deposited the reading copies of his diss in each of the appropriate mail boxes. Blair whistled as he made his way to the parking lot.

"Ellison," he barked into the phone.

"Wow, what a coincidence, me too." came the reply, accompanied by a chuckle.

"Stephen, when did you get back?" Jim was delighted to hear from his brother. Stephen had been in Europe on business a lot since New Year’s. It had been so hard for the man Jim now considered a brother-in-law as well as a brother in arms.

"Jim, I’m finally through with that damned merger and home for good. Do you and Blair have plans for the Fourth? There’s a terrific buffet and fire works display at the Club that night and I’d like you both to come as my guests. And, yes, big brother, the old man will be there and yes, I’m going to tell him!" Stephen’s delighted laugh eased a tightness in Jim’s chest that he hadn’t even realized was there until it was gone. Stephen hadn’t chosen an easy road but he had a wonderful companion.

"I’ll be there for sure. I’ll have to check with Blair. Depends on how close to finishing the DD he is…" Jim began his reply.

"DD?" interrupted Stephen. "What the hell is that?"

Jim growled, "It’s the Damned Dissertation. I hate the thing. I want this *over*. I want my partner back."

From across the bullpen came the yell, "Ellison, quit whining!"

Stephen grinned. He recognized that voice. "So, check with Blair, okay? And let me know. Now can I talk to…"

Jim had already transferred the call. "Hello, love, I’m so glad you’re home…"

Jim turned his hearing down. He didn’t need to hear the rest of *that* conversation. He glared at the pile of unfinished reports that seemed to breed every time he turned his back. Damn, he wanted his partner back!

Jim was really surprised to find Blair at the loft when he pulled in just after six that evening. It had been several months since he’d seen much of his roommate and brother. He took a deep breath. Wow, it smelled like dinner was ready too. He bound up the stairs. He’d given up on the elevator ever working again. Blair just avoided elevators.

"Hey, Chief, what’s up? You’re home early!" Blair smiled at Jim’s cheer. It was nice to know Blair cared. It felt really good to have someone in his home. Blair had helped Jim to heal from many old traumas.

"Jim, I have something important to tell you…" Blair began.

"Chief, what’s wrong? Is someone at the university causing problems? Has someone on the committee quit?" Jim’s good cheer disappeared.

Blair hastened to reassure his paranoid friend. "Jim, chill! It’s good news. I defend on the 11th. I turned in the final reading copy today. It’s DONE!"

Jim was silent at the announcement. He looked…stunned. Hell, he was stunned. "You’re sure? It’s really finished?" he asked in a quiet, hopeful voice.

Blair’s grin was convincing. "Yep, it’s really done. Now, the only all-nighters I’ll be pulling are watching your back on stakeout! Now, how does lasagna, caesar salad, and a good bottle of wine sound for dinner?"

"It sounds great. Let me grab a shower. I’ll be ready in twenty!" Jim’s grin matched Blair’s for pure joy.

Later that evening, Jim recounted the conversation with Stephen to Blair.

"Jim, do you think he’ll really follow through and tell your dad?"

"I hope so, Chief. I don’t like this hiding. The old man’s gonna flip in any case. I think Stephen should just tell him to his face and be done with it." Jim sighed.

"So, let’s call them!"

Across town…

"Stephen, are you sure? I don’t want you to be uncomfortable or to lose your relationship with your dad."

"Love, I need to do this. You are the most important person in my life. We’re out at the PD. We’re out with my friends. Jim and Blair had been supportive from the first. So has Simon. And Sally. My dad will probably flip out but Jim is right about one thing. Hiding is wrong. He’s an expert."

"Stephen, you know I’m behind you. Not to mention thrilled."

Both men paused as the phone shrilled its alarm.

Glancing at the caller ID, Stephen grabbed the handset.

"Jim, everything okay?" A cop’s life was dangerous. Stephen was learning to live with that danger up close and personal.

"Stephen, I’m fine!" Jim growled. "You both listening?"

"I’m here too."

"Me too." Blair chimed in.

Jim continued, "Stephen, we’re on for the Fourth. You better not chicken out, little brother, you hear me?"

Stephen just laughed. "I hear you, Jimmy, I hear you."

Blair chimed in, "Stephen, for us non country club types, what’s the dress code for this…event?" Stephen could hear the apprehension in Blair’s voice. No one wanted to spend the Fourth in a suit. He decided to jerk the little brother’s leg a bit.

"Well, kiddo, ya know it *is* the club and they have certain standards…"

Blair groaned. Jim turned so his grin wouldn’t give the game away. He knew that the *only* day the club suspended the dress code was for July 4th.

What gave the game away to Blair was the burst of uncontrolled laughter from his brother-in-law. "You jerk! There’s no dress code for the Fourth, is there?"

Stephen got himself under control, finally. "Sorry, Blair."

"Yeah, right." came the reply.

"Really, Blair, I am. There is a dress code; it’s just way relaxed. No tanks or cutoffs. Shoes except at the swimming area. That’s pretty much it."

Blair took a deep, relieved breath. "I can do that. You know my presence will make your dad flip out, don’t you?"

"Blair, the sooner dad understands that Jim and I have *family* the sooner he can decide if he wants to be a part of it." Stephen’s words were sober. There was a clunk as the extension at Stephen’s end was put down and the rustle of clothing as Stephen received a much needed hug.

"See you on the Fourth, if not before, okay, bro?" Jim wanted to make sure Stephen was okay.

"Sure, Jim. I’ll be around a lot more from now on!"

As the call ended, all four men were smiling.

Across town, there were no smiles. William Ellison hadn’t been able to find any personal help that he found acceptable. He’d finally hired a local business, Maid Teams, to come in and do basic cleaning. He couldn’t imagine cleaning a bathroom or doing dishes. He couldn’t believe how ungrateful Sally Chang was. She claimed to love his sons and yet she couldn’t see how bad Jim looked with that…that...person living in his home. If you could call the warehouse Jim owned a home. William snorted. At least Stephen was doing well. He’d figure out how to make Jimmy toe the mark. William intently studied the box he held. He’d finally figured out how to use the microwave, more or less. It was embarrassing to eat out every night. He wanted a live-in servant. Someone to take care of all the mundane chores of living. He’d have to find someone to hire an appropriate person, someone who understood a servant’s place. At least he could look forward to the Fourth of July at the country club. He’d opposed the loosening of the dress code some years ago and always appeared appropriately attired. He still enjoyed the fireworks display, from the comfort of a closed in porch. Maybe Stephen would join him. An acquaintance had informed him that his daughter would be in attendance. She had finished a graduate degree in…something. It didn’t matter. Stephen needed to marry someone appropriate and produce several children, male of course, to carry on the family name. It was certainly clear the Jimmy would never do his familial duty. As the microwave dinged, William shook himself out of his reverie. Retrieving the mac and cheese from the machine, William Ellison sat down to a lonely dinner.

The Fourth dawned clear and lovely. Stephen Ellison was both exhilarated and terrified. So, he did what he’d always done as a kid when he was scared. He called his big brother.

"Ellison," Jim growled, knowing who was calling. Caller ID was a wonderful invention.

"Me too." came the expected reply. Stephen sounded subdued to Jim’s way of thinking.

"How are you doing, bro?" Jim inquired softly. "You’re not gonna back out, are you?"

Stephen gave a weak laugh. "If I back out, I’ll lose the love of my life and my brothers. I don’t dare back out." There was a touch of hysteria in Stephen’s voice.

"Stephen, listen to me. I love you. So does Blair. I’ll never desert you. And if you doubt…"

Stephen interrupted. "No, no doubt there. None at all." He sounded more confident.

"Good!" growled Jim. "Now, I’ve gotta go shower!"

"You’re not dressed at this hour?" Stephen asked, wondering.

"No, I worked out and then discovered a certain long-haired anthropologist had used *all* the hot water."

Stephen laughed. "Now I know what to get you for Christmas!"

"Good bye, Stephen. See you in a few."

"Bye, Jim."

William Ellison looked up as several more people came into the comfortable sitting area a little distance from the pool. The adult pool. Ellison would not tolerate the shrieks and splashing of the unruly children. He’d proposed an "adults only" Fourth of July and been soundly defeated. He shuddered slightly as the merry sounds from the family area reached him. He’d never imposed his children on his adult friends. And his sons *knew* how to behave in public. William glanced up as he heard more people approach. He saw red.

Stephen, Jim, Blair Sandburg, a man he recognized as Simon Banks, and another detective all came in together. The men all seemed to be having a good time. William thought they were a bit loud. He stood to approach his sons. He could ignore the unsuitable persons in their company.

Stiffly, he approached the group. "Jimmy, Stephen, good to see you. Stephen, you didn’t tell me you were bringing guests. I have you listed as my guest, even though you didn’t return my repeated calls. You have no right to bring…strangers… here on my membership." All of this was said in a cold, measured tone.

Stephen looked distinctly startled and displeased. "Sir," he said coldly, "I am a member of this club in my own right, as are Simon and Jim. Blair is Jim’s guest; this is mine…"

William was dumbfounded. He wasn’t on the membership committee and he had no idea the club’s standards had fallen so far as to admit…people of color. He was also embarrassed that he didn’t realize that his own sons were members. Of course, it was because they were legacies. He interrupted Stephen. "I’m sure that you’ve arranged things appropriately," was his cool reply.

"Hello, Mr. Ellison. It’s good to see you again." Blair extended his hand. William Ellison ignored him. Blair was going to do the right thing no matter how uncomfortable this man made him feel. This was Jim’s dad and he knew how important family was.

Jim was beginning to steam, though quietly. "Hello, Dad. Since you are choosing to ignore a member of my family, we’ll go find a table and order some drinks. Sally should be here soon."

Jim stalked off.

William glared at his younger son and stuttered "Sally? Stephen, surely you know one doesn’t socialize with servants!"

Stephen was more like his father than the older man realized. He drew himself very straight and said with quiet dignity, "Sally is the only mother I ever knew. Anything I ever learned of value in the house you own came from her. You only served as a model of what *not* to do. You will not disrespect her in my presence. I recommend you treat her with respect in front of Jim as well. He doesn’t tolerate disrespect to his family."

William was appalled. "Stephen, a former servant and that Jew bastard who’s worked his way into your brother’s life are not family and never will be. Sooner or later, Jimmy will discover just how deceitful and treacherous Jews are. It will probably happen when that…person…has defrauded him of everything he owns, not that that amounts to much."

Stephen knew it was, at this moment, that he had to do it. He’d been bulldozed far too often by his father. He took a deep breath. Jim appeared behind him and laid a hand on his shoulder in support. "Dad, there’s someone I’d like you to meet." He gestured to the group just to his side and grabbed his love’s hand. "This is my lover…"

"What?" came the gasp from William Ellison. This couldn’t be happening. Stephen wasn’t a fag. He hadn’t raised *two* queers. "No, you will not do this to me. I don’t care who this person is. He, or should I say it, doesn’t exist for me. If you persist in this reprehensible behavior, I will disown you as I did your brother. Consider carefully, Stephen. You are now as great a disappointment to me as Jimmy is. I will not be associated with such scandal and disgrace. Do not contact me until you have straightened out your life." With that statement, William Ellison left the club. He never noticed that he passed Sally Chang on her way into the club.

Sally immediately noticed the *her* boys were upset. She walked quickly to them and gathered Stephen and his lover into a big hug. "You told him?" she asked gently.

"Yeah," Stephen replied shakily. "He didn’t take it well."

"Stephen," Jim said, "are you going to be okay? Do you want to go somewhere else?"

Stephen smiled. Jim would always be the concerned big brother. No wonder Blair had dubbed him the "Blessed Protector". "No, bro, let’s enjoy the holiday. After all, the family that matters is here, right?"

"You are so right, bro. Let’s go have some fun!"

With that, the five men and Sally joined the other families at the buffet to have the best Fourth of July either Jim or Stephen could remember.

William Ellison sat alone in his impressive house. He was in shock, he supposed. Stephen was…queer. Stephen actually thought he could get away with introducing his…lover…at the club. William had immediately called a mutual acquaintance, someone Stephen did business with, and had been further shocked to discover that the relationship wasn’t secret. People knew. He’d be the laughing stock. He probably already was. He had to find a way to fix this mess. He had to. Jimmy was a lost cause, he’d come to accept that. But he couldn’t lose Stephen too. He just couldn’t. In the morning, he’d have a plan. In the morning. After all, tomorrow was another day.

The End

<apologies to Margaret Mitchell for that last sentence. I just couldn’t resist. Any votes for who Stephen’s SO is?> <evil laughter>