Kids, Oh  by Juliet Benson

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Kids, Oh 

by Juliet Benson


Rating: G
Category: AU
Summary: Blair and Jim meet up as youngsters.
Warning: I took the liberty of tweaking Jim and Blair's age difference to about four years.
Disclaimer: Nothing's mine but the words. Drink hot chocolate and be happy.
Spoilers: None


“Get out and get some fresh air,” among these words, Jim Ellison was shoved unceremoniously outside. With a sniff toward the house he had just been evacuated from, he turned on his heel and strode toward the sidewalk. At twelve- almost thirteen-, he felt this was a great indignity done to his person. It was wintertime in Cascade and snow was falling lazily down. The sidewalk already had a nice covering on it, and Jim paused several times to stomp his feet and shake off the layer that was rapidly growing on his boots.

“Hi neighbor!” a perky voice interrupted his thoughts. Jim turned and looked over the kid who had spoken. Brown curls were cropped closely to a head containing the brightest blue eyes he had ever seen. The kid was small, no more than five, he guessed.

“Neighbor?” he questioned. The kid hopped off the snowy wall he had been sitting on.

“Well, no, not really. I’m not your neighbor or anything, I just thought it would be a pleasant first impression. I’m Blair J. Sandburg. I’m eight.” Blair smiled widely up at him, stopping and waiting for a response. Jim nodded shortly.

“Jimmy Ellison,” he continued on his way, and was slightly surprised when the kid trotted after him.

“That’s cool. I’ve seen you around every now and then, but we just moved here so not that much. But I haven’t had a chance to meet anyone yet, ‘cos Mom’s been busy unpacking and spending time with Bill (that’s her boyfriend) and stuff, and I’ve been stuck inside. We have a kitten that I found, though, that’s keeping me company, so it wasn’t bad at all. I saw the funniest bumper sticker the other day, it said: “If you’re not happy with the news, go make some of your own.” I thought that was a riot, don’t you?” Jim listened in varying stages of amazement as the twerp rambled on happily. He tried to figure out where Blair paused to take a breath, but couldn’t really tell, and finally gave up.

“Chief,” he said, drawing a surprised look from Blair and making his mouth stop moving. “Where are you going?” Blair shrugged.

“Where ever you are,” was the reply along with a brilliant smile. Jim moved his shoulders several times.

“I’m not really going anywhere, just walking,” Blair thought about this for a moment, before brightening and grabbing Jim’s hand.

“Let’s go to the playground!” he chirped, tugging on the captive arm. It was on Jim’s lips to say: “The playground’s for babies” but instead asked:

“What would we do? It’s winter.” Blair bounced along.

“We’ll see when we get there,” he said good-naturedly. Jimmy gently pulled him to a halt.

“Well, if you want to go to the park, it’s the other way.”

***

“See?” Jim felt as though he scored a major victory as they stood and surveyed the white world that lay before them. “There’s nothing to do.”

“Sure there is,” undaunted, Blair shot off and charged headlong into a swing.

“Bonsai!” he whooped, lifting his feet off the ground and swinging, arms pinned under his chest on the seat of the swing. Jim followed at a more rational pace, shaking his head. He halted next to the swing set, watching, disinterested, with his hands in his pockets. Snow was jarred loose from the swing set, and drifted down around them. Blair suddenly stopped and grinned at something past Jim.

“Hi,” he greeted, straightening. Jim turned and beheld a black boy, a candy cane wedged firmly in his mouth.

“Hey,” he replied, looking at them suspiciously.

“I’m Blair J. Sandburg, and this is my friend Jimmy Ellison. I’m eight.” Blair took the liberty of making the introductions.

“Hi,” Jim said. The boy nodded.

“Simon Banks,” he replied. “What are you two doing out here in winter?” Jim jerked his head toward Blair.

“He wanted to come,” he felt a little foolish, but kept his face impassive.

“Huh,” Simon pulled the candy cane out of his mouth thoughtfully and eyed them. Jimmy was wearing his boots and a winter coat, hands shoved stubbornly in his pockets. Blair, on the other hand, was wrapped from head to toe. Earmuffs the shape of dogs covered his ears, a scarf wrapped protectively around his neck, a bulky winter coat swallowed him up, snow pants peered beneath the end of the coat, which hung mid-thigh, and untied boots completed the package. He looked like he was about to be launched into space.

“Want to play with us?” Blair asked guilelessly. Another rush of embarrassment seized Jim. Simon cocked an eyebrow.

“Play?” a smile quirked the end of him mouth. “Thanks, but no thanks.”

“You’re right,” Blair said seriously, lifting on arm and pushing his mitten forward and the arm of his coat back. “We’ve got work to do. Come on Jim. Nice to meet you Simon, maybe we’ll see you later.” With a wave and a firm grip on Jim’s arm, he was off.

“Where are we going now?” Jim inquired, mentally asking himself why he was  allowing himself to be dragged around by this kid.

“We’re going to shovel a driveway, it shouldn’t take too long,” Blair replied, hesitating once they passed the park’s boundaries. “Which way did we come from?” Jim turned him in the right direction and followed, one of his steps matching two of Blair’s. He wondered how the kid would fare without him there. ‘Get lost in a heartbeat, no doubt,’ he mused to himself.

“Here we go,” Blair turned abruptly and waded up a long driveway to where a snow blower was waiting patiently. The house was make of brick, complete with a chimney that had smoke drifting from it.

“It this your house?” Jim asked, following Blair.

“No, it’s Mrs. Jarrod’s,” he approached the snow blower and attempted to mount it.

“Here, kid, you’d better let me handle that. You get the porch and where I can’t go.” Taking over and pushing Blair away, he climbed on board and felt a flush of excitement come over him. ‘This could actually be fun!’ After a moment of hunting, he found the key and started the snow blower up. Blair was intent on shoveling the porch away. Jimmy got the hang of how the machine worked quickly and was soon happily chugging along, intensely removing the offending snow from the driveway.

The only mishap occurred when he was clearing the part of drive that led to the garage. He got stuck in a ditch. Blair was giggling uncontrollably as he dismounted.

“Need any help?” he called from the porch, grinning.

“I’ve got it,” Jim snapped. He pushed the snow blower out, suffering under the wide smiles Blair kept throwing at him. Soon he was done and parked it back in its original spot.

“Come on, let’s say hi to Mrs. Jarrod,” Blair rang the doorbell before Jim could protest. He stood stiffly as Blair hopped from one foot to the next, rubbing his hands together. He was about to suggest the possibility that no one was home when the door opened to reveal an elderly woman. She beamed at them.

“Blair! Come on in, I’ve hot chocolate and cookies.” ‘How appropriate,’ Jim thought warily, hanging back a second before entering reluctantly. Hansel and Gretel stories flashed through his mind.

“I thought you said you hadn’t met anyone yet,” he whispered to Blair as he followed him in.

“No one of my own age.” The door closed behind them and warmth embraced Jimmy. Blair stomped his feet on the rug and pulled off his mittens and earmuffs. Jim hesitated a moment before pulling off his boots and unzipping his coat. Blair shed his coat and scarf and bent over to tug off his boots. Jim was taken aback. ‘He’s so tiny!’ he thought, shocked. The outside gear had really bulked him up.

“Come in and have a seat, boys,” Mrs. Jarrod said. Blair was trying to balance himself on one soak-covered foot as he wrestled with his remaining boot. He started to tip over, but Jim grabbed him by the back of the suspenders of his snow pants with one hand and held him upright. Blair tossed the boot aside, causing Jimmy to wince as it landed with a thud, and tore in after the stooped figure. Again, Jim followed at a more dignified pace. Blair climbed up on a chair and dug cheerfully into the goods. Jim sat down rigidly and took one cookie, holding it cautiously. Mrs. Jarrod handed him a mug of hot chocolate and sat down, smiling at them.

“Thank you gentlemen, for doing such a wonderful job. Now, Blair, who’s this fine young man you have brought with you?” She turned a kind gaze upon Jim.

“This is Jim, he’s my best friend,” Blair happily kicked his feet, which dangled above the linoleum, a half-eaten cookie in one hand and the mug gripped in his other. Jim scowled. Mrs. Jarrod beamed, the look on her face obviously saying: “Oh, how cute.” Jim finished his cookie and hot chocolate obediently and silently, listening as Blair chatted with Mrs. Jarrod.

“Oh man, it’s after four, I’ve got to get home!” Blair shoved the rest of his cookie in his mouth and wiggled down from his chair. Jim carefully wiped his fingers off and folded his napkin. Blair threw his arms around Mrs. Jarrod and gave her a big hug.

“See you later, thanks for the cookies and hot chocolate,” he called, going and squirming into his battle gear. Jim got up, thanked her politely and got on his boots and coat. Blair took only a moment longer to bid Mrs. Jarrod goodbye again and hopped outside. He walked Jim to his house.

“See you later man, thanks for spending the day with me.” Blair moved toward Jim, but having witnessed the scene in Mrs. Jarrod’s kitchen, Jim knew what to expect and held up his hands.

“Hold it right there, Cowboy. You’re not giving me a hug.” Blair stopped, slightly disappointed, but settled on waving.

“Bye!” he raced around the corner and was gone. Jim stared after him for a moment before walking up to his door. His father was waiting.

“When I said to get fresh air, I didn’t mean move out,” he said frostily. Jim stood inside and shed his clothes. He smiled. Maybe he’d see Blair tomorrow.

The End


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