Chapter Eight

"I do *not* believe what we saw. Our Lady Eve and Dr. Adam Hunter standing side by side at a press conference, in front of the whole world. I mean, yeah, they didn't hug or even shake hands, and Evie was in full drag so he looked like Hunter's *daughter* or something, but I don't know which one was braver, you know? I still think Hunter is blind and prejudiced, but, you know. I was thinking...he never has, in *any* of his talks, said that AIDS was a curse on the gays. I'm going to look at his website, because he does have one, and see about his columns, you know?"

"Yes, sweetie." Blair had been talking in the truck nonstop since they'd taken Evie home from the press conference. Normally, Jim would have enjoyed it. It had been a very long time since Blair had been so excited, and when he was, he was adorable. But not now. Now Jim did his best to tune Blair out so he could think. And what he was thinking about was not pleasant.

He pulled into their spot and climbed out into the Cascade drizzle. Blair, still chattering, followed him. "Twenty years. Can you believe it? I mean, even you saw your father...maybe not. That has to be so hard, though. To know your dad disapproved of you...oh...yeah. I guess I'm lucky. Poor Evie. I hope he and his father at least start talking."

Jim unlocked the front door and turned to face Blair. "'She.'"

"Excuse me?"

"Lady Eve prefers to be called 'she.' So does Miss Melly and poor Miss Freddy. You never call them that."

Blair frowned at Jim. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"No, you don't, darling, do you?" Jim signaled the elevator.

"What's wrong, James?" The doors opened. Jim didn't answer. Blair sighed and fidgeted until the reached their floor. "James, talk to me."

Jim just shook his head. He unlocked the apartment door and hung up his coat, and then walked to the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. He wanted to warm up from all that cold and damp. He could hear Blair close and lock the door behind him and then follow him to the kitchen.

"Good idea. It's nasty out there."

"Yeah." He didn't look at Blair.

"It's nasty in here. James, talk to me. Please. Tell me what I'm doing wrong, why you're so angry." Jim felt Blair grab his arm, as if to make him look.

He put down the coffee measure and turned around. "It's not my anger that's the issue, darling. It's *yours*."

"What the hell are you talking about? Don't tell me you're buying Hunter's line of crap. I am *not* angry. Okay, I am, now, but that's just because you brought this thing up again." Blair began pacing around the kitchen.

"I'm bringing it up again because he's right." Jim turned away to fill the carafe and turn the coffee machine on.

"I'm not angry. Not really. Come on. Look at me, James." Blair pulled around Jim to face him.

"Okay. I'm looking." He didn't meet Blair's eyes.

"What is really bothering you?" Blair grabbed both his arms.

"You. You know, they've been telling me this for years, but I refused to see it. Now I do. God, I *hate* this." His stomach began knotting up. He forced himself to look at his partner.

"Who? Telling you what?" Blair's eye's flashed.

"All the girls. Down on Stonewall. They all love you, 'Dr. Blair.' But they don't think of you as part of them."

Blair frowned. "What do you mean? Of course...well...I'm..."

"Yeah. You're not. You're my lover, but you're not really *there*."

"I'm there with you half the week. I like being there."

"And never without me. You don't even visit Miss Melly without me."