----and God would ask me what I had done with my life, and I would tell him I spent it with you---
Jim really doesn't get it. I don't think Jim will *ever* get it. And most of me is incredibly grateful that Jim doesn't get it. The part that couldn't bear the consequences, because no matter what people say, when one person finds out that someone loves him, someone he *doesn't* love in return, well, the dynamic changes forever. And that change usually signals the deterioration of the relationship.
Oddly enough, I don't have a clue as to how long I've loved him. And I'm usually much better about knowing things about myself. I do know that when it became a mutual, silent agreement that I would stay beyond the *one week, man*, we were both honest about our sexual orientation, which prompted another silent agreement - No mixing business with pleasure.
So we worked, we played, we double dated, and somewhere along the line - I fell in love.
And he hasn't figured it out yet.
And the *other* half of me is mad as hell. I mean, how many fucking signs do I have to leave?
A man at war with himself. Ugly battle.
I tried to *settle*. Dated frequently, experimented, but I was unfair to the men and women I dated, because they always *became* Jim. Always. I could be with a 5'2, petite blonde with grey eyes and huge....um, bodegas, and I'd still be with Jim. Jim does not *have* bodegas. He has pecs. I could be with a 5'8, skinny accountant from Seattle, a guy with doilies on the back of his chairs, and I'd be with Jim. Jim does not have doilies. He has red and blue tupperware.
I finally gave up. I stopped trying to settle.
But I didn't anticipate the overwhelming loneliness. The deep down, soul and gut wrenchng loneliness, even when I'm sitting right next to him. Or in a room full of people, of friends. Oh, it's not always there.
Usually, I'm fine, plain ol' me, normal. But when it comes and it's coming more and more frequently, it's like a mental illness. It clouds my thinking, overwhelms my day, and I want only to be touched, but no touch feels. I want only darkness and no absence of light can give me that. I feel pain in my joints, my chest, my head. Every word is an effort, every thought useless.
It should be visible, this mental illness called loneliness, but it must not be......since no one's noticed.
I have been known to stand in front of the mirror in the bathroom and scold. All my life I've done this. I'll shake a finger at - me, and lecture.
"You asshole, you dingbat, you shit, you. How could you have said/did/shown/used/acted/pretended/ like that?"
Lately - the scoldings have taken on a life of their own. *I* don't do a thing. I just stand there and before you know it, the man in the mirror is lecturing, and telling me how useless I am, and you know, I - listen. Why is that? Just because Jim doesn't love me, I become useless? So I ask myself in the mirror, " *Why* doesn't Jim love you?" and god dammit, *he* answers and I don't like the answer. So I argue.
"But, he saved us, came after us...."
But the other guy says, "You fucking died. If that isn't a good excuse for a declaration of love, I don't know what is, but did he declare? No."
I usually shut up at that point and - listen. You can't argue with logic. If dying didn't solicit a pronouncement of undying love, I don't know what would.
That's where the guy in the mirror snidely reminds me that I gave up everything for the man upstairs. And *that* didn't bring forth any gooey declarations either.
I really hate the guy in the mirror. And I'm beginning to hate the other one too.
Loneliness sucks - big time.
But it's better than the alternative.
The alternative was seriously considered by yours truly.
A life without Jim.
Ain't gonna happen. He's addictive. I could no more live without that smile, that voice, the way he lives his life, his obligations, his responsibilties, his honor... no way, man. And I have a responsibility to him. To Cascade, to the tribe.
There is *no* alternative. There is only - loneliness. I can live with that. I *will* live with that.
"Hey, Chief, breakfast."
Blair came out of his room, still tucking in his shirt, socks on but shoes not. His hair was a mess, not completely dry and Jim noticed he hadn't shaved.
"Not hungry, Jim, but thanks."
Ellison put the spatula down, eyes narrowing a fraction. He wiped his hands unthinkingly on his apron and regarded his messy partner. "When was the last time you *had* breakfast, Sandburg?"
One shoe was now hanging by its shoelace from Blair's mouth and at Jim's question, Blair looked up, surprised and mumbled out, "uh?"
"Breakfast? The most important meal of the day, per Dr. Sandburg."
The shoe dropped and Blair frowned. "Uh, well, yesterday."
"Uh, well, nuh, huh."
"Oh. Well.....I'm just not hungry."
"Some juice maybe?"
"Nah. But thanks."
Blair sat down on the floor and put on his shoes, lacing them up with great care as Jim looked on, totally confused, because Blair was *on* the floor - putting on his shoes. On the floor.
"Chief? You're sitting on the floor."
Without looking up, the younger man said, "uh, huh."
"You haven't shaved yet, did you notice?"
"You going to shave?"
Blair finished and scrambled up, hand working his face, before he shook his head. "You know, maybe I won't shave. Haven't had a beard in years. Maybe time to give it a try again."
Blair looked at him expectantly, Jim stared back and said, "What?"
"Time to go? Work? Simon? Catch the bad guys?"
"It's seven am, Chief. We're not due in until eight thirty. That's *why* I fixed breakfast, which I am now going to eat."
With an unreadable expression, Blair said, "oh", then promptly walked over to the pegs, grabbed up his coat and said, "You know, I'm going to head out to the station now, finish up that Lacone report. Do you mind?"
Jim stopped scooping up eggs from the pan, spatula poised mid-air, mouth gaping.
Blair smiled slightly and said, "I'll take that as a no. See you there, Jim."
Blair slid into the Volvo, hands shaking.
He'd opened his eyes this morning as another dark cloud of loneliness had swept over him and the idea of dressing, crossing paths with Jim, sharing the bathroom, then eating breakfast with the man seemed more than Blair could handle. He'd learned that when these feelings engulfed him, he was actually better off *away* from Jim. So at five am, he'd gotten up and started his morning with every intention of heading out without Jim. He'd succeeded.
He felt like throwing up.
Jim stood just as Blair had left him, spatula frozen, mouth open.
With eyes glued to the front door, his hand slowly lowered, fingers released the spatula, his mouth closed. Lately, his world had been tilted at an uncomfortable angle and he hadn't a clue as to what was wrong. But this morning, seeing Blair on the floor, putting on his shoes, he'd understood.
Blair was what was wrong.
Jim lifted the frying pan with the nice fluffy scrambed eggs, walked woodenly to the sink, scraped the eggs down the disposal, flipped the switch, cleaned the pan and the plastic spatula, set them in the drainer, took off the apron, put on his coat, grabbed his keys and walked out.
He would have liked to have thrown up.
Blair walked into the squad room, thankful that at this early hour, it was empty. Sometimes the only way to fight loneliness was by being alone.
He sat down at his desk, turned on his computer, pulled the Lacone file from his basket, flipped it open and after moving into Word, he began to type.
After several minutes, the squad doors blew open and Megan Connor breezed in. She stopped dead when she spotted Blair, head bent over the keyboard, hair falling forward, fingers flying.
And there was no Jim. No Jim's jacket. No Jim's coffee cup, hot and steaming. Just - no Jim.
And Blair. For the first time in a long time, Megan Connor just - looked. Looked hard, the way a detective *should* look. And she didn't like what she was seeing.
"Hey, Sandy. Where's your other half?"
The head lifted, the absence of expression noted by Connor. She watched as Blair consciously *added* an expression, just for her. He smiled.
"Hey, Connor, and at least you didn't say *better* half."
"No way - *you're* the one with all the hair."
"Oh, I don't know....have you seen those arms?"
He was joking with her. But it wasn't - real. She joked back.
"Yeah, *very* hairy," then she added, just so he would *know* that she *knew*, "So? Where is he?"
"I left early - errands to run, two vehicles today." Megan pointedly looked at her watch, then let one eyebrow rise, just enough. "Sandy, it's only seven thirty."
He didn't answer, instead lowering his head and typing again.
Megan walked to her desk, flipped on the small light and *her* computer, sat down and started working. But she kept an eye on Blair.
Five minutes later she noticed his hands stopped, poised over the keyboards, and he froze like that. She waited, and waited. And nothing. She was getting very worried and was just about to get up and go to him when he pushed back his chair and stormed out and her eyes followed him to the men's room.
She took a deep breath, got up and followed him. At the door, she hesitated. After all, this *was* the men's room. She shrugged, smiled and pushed her way in.
Blair was leaning against the far wall, next to the hand dryer, head back, eyes closed. Megan paused, afraid to move, her gaze moving almost gently over her friend, noting how his jeans were too baggy, his flannel shirt, even with cuffs rolled up, too big for him now, his face, all angles, planes and shadows, his lashes almost lighter against the circles she'd not previously noticed.
Lids slowly lifted, blue eyes focused as he pushed himself away from the wall and said, "You've never called me Blair before." He stepped to the sink, turned on the faucet, washed his hands, took a papertowel, wet it, then ran it over his face before throwing it behind him, into the trash. He faced her, smiled, and said, "What is it do you suppose, about my name? No one seems to want to use it. Strange, I think."
She took a few steps closer, almost as if she were dealing with some wild animal and she had to be careful......
"I'm sorry. I'll stop using Sandy."
He waved his hand listlessly, saying, "No, no, I'm just curious, that's all."
"What's wrong? Please, what's wrong?"
He looked at her then, *really* looked, observed the concern, the worry, the fear. "Hey, nothing, Megan, honest. Just one of those days, you know?"
She moved to his side, grateful when he didn't move away and said, "No, what kind of days?"
"Just - one of those - days. Kind of fuzzy, you know? Up on the wrong side of the bed, nothing more."
"Uh, huh. Why do I *not* believe you? Come on, we're mates, right? Talk to me, Sandy."
He tilted his head and quirked one eyebrow as he said, "You *do* know that this is the men's bathroom, right?"
"So? Women do their best listening in bathrooms."
Blair chuckled, "Well, there really is nothing to say or tell, Megan. But we could stand here until some guy shows up, needing to utilize this here *lounge*. I'd love to see his face when he spots us or should I say, spots *you*?"
"Okay, so you don't want to talk. *Now*. But if you do, I hope you'll remember me."
They stood a moment, eyes locked, but then Blair gave a little nod behind Megan, and he was smiling broadly this time and Megan, blushing, got the hint and made a quick getaway.
Once the door shut, Blair faced himself in the mirror. The black hole of loneliness was worse today, even away from Jim.
Geezus. All those years of going from place to place, leaving friends behind, he could, as a small boy, crawl into his mother's lap and her arms would wrap around him and he wouldn't be lonely anymore - he always had Naomi. Maybe, later today, he would try to reach her again......hear her voice, figuratively crawl into her lap.......he smiled at himself then....A thirty year old man - needing to crawl into his mother's lap.....right.
Would anyone, like Megan, think less of him if he admitted to the need to be held? He could hear the guys now, snorting and joking.....but it didn't change the truth. He needed to be held.
In his second year at Rainier, he'd met a man named Paul, Paul Lopez. Tall, broad, fifteen years older than Blair, sparkling brown eyes, curly black hair, and he'd been Blair's first male lover. Okay, first lover - period. Six months, and what Blair remembered best were the hugs. In bed, Paul would pull him to his chest and hold him. Just - hold him. Paul had always known when Blair needed those hugs. Paul thrived on closeness, on touching and it was from him that Blair had learned to feel comfortable with overt touches, connections.
Blair felt his eyes fill as he remembered the phone call, from Paul's brother.....that Paul had died in a car accident. Blair had nearly broken down, and it had taken Naomi to put the pieces together again. After summer break, he'd returned to Rainier, a different person. His
heart was closed and his only goal was school and later, getting laid.
The closest he'd come to opening his heart again had been Maya. And now, of course, Jim.
He turned away from the mirror, straightened himself up and with a shrug, and the thought that he really could use a hug, he left the bathroom.
Jim drove slowly, carefully, knowing his mind was elsewhere. Like - on Blair. Something was wrong and he was a detective and he *would* find out. The anxiety in the pit of his stomach, carving out it's own little niche wasn't helping his decision.
By the time Jim got up to Major Crime, most of the other detectives were at their desks, working solidly, quietly. Coffee was brewing, but Evie, the muffin girl, had not been by yet which was clearly evident by the constant *look-ups* when someone came through the doors.
After taking off his jacket, Jim sat down next to his partner, smiled and asked, "Get the report finished?"
"Yeah, already in Simon's basket, man."
"Good, good. You think you might join me...", his words were interrupted as Simon came through the double doors, Joel right behind him. "Ellison, Sandburg, glad you're both here so early. Get over to the Jewel Mart, there's been another theft, but this time, someone was hurt and the scene is fresh. We're talking minutes, guys."
Neither man wasted any time. They were both up and out the door in seconds.
The scene was fresh all right. As in the jerk who'd *tried* to rob the Jewel Mart was still in the vicinity, like the back alley, which, once the fire trucks and ambulance pulled up in front, was thoroughly blocked. So he hid behind the dumpsters.
Unfortunately for Jim, the particular store within the Jewel Mart that had been burglarized had placed a lovely display on the middle jewel case. It entailed the use of many different shapes and sizes of French crystal perfume bottles, all adorned with various expensive pendant necklaces, bracelets, pearl necklace strings and an artfully arranged sprinkling of *diamonds*.
During the burglary, the case had been struck by the owner as he fell from a blow delivered by the burglar. The case shuddered, the bottles shivered....and finally fell and shattered. The bottles were filled with expensive french colognes.
The moment Jim walked in, he was hit by the multitude of scents. His eyes watered, his breathing quickened as he fought to get air into his tortured lungs. He went down on one knee and as Blair knelt and spoke softly, advising him on what to do, Jim waved him on, nodding and Blair stood, uncertain, but finally moving forward.
The firemen had come and gone and the ambulance had been pulling out as Jim had been pulling in. All the employees were outside, waiting for their interviews, but still, Blair moved cautiously. He worked his way to the back room, noticed the open door leading out to the alley, pulled his gun, and slowly stepped outside.
Back in the store, Jim was recovering and as two officers entered, Jim headed for his partner.
The burglar waited, gun ready. He could hear the man moving through the alley, he'd seen the truck, with it's flashing light, pull up as the ambulance pulled away, and he figured it was a good bet that this was a cop. So he waited.
Blair scanned the deep alley, eyes flicking back and forth, hair on his arms standing at attention. He started forward, to search, hesitated, took two more steps in, passed one trash bin, and felt the cold muzzle of a gun on his neck.
Jim heard two heartbeats from the alley, then the voice telling his partner to freeze. He moved cautiously forward, trying to figure their positions in the alley.
His back was against the door frame, gun up when he pinpointed their location.
"Listen, man, don't do anything foolish. The owner is fine, a concussion. You're a thief, not a killer. The place is full of cops."
"I'm getting out of here, and you're gonna help."
"No, no way. We're not moving, man."
"Then I'll blow your brains out."
"And you'll die. My partner is inside, more cops around the front. You know what they do to people who kill cops. You won't make it out of this alley alive."
Blair could feel the man waver, could feel the shaking of the gun as the muzzle moved slightly up and down his neck.
"Come on, man, it's not worth it. Just drop the gun on the ground, and we'll go inside."
Jim could hear the man's heartbeat speed up, could hear the hammer being pulled back.....
He moved into the alley, was about to yell, when Blair said, "No, don't do it. *THINK* man. Just for a moment - THINK. You've never killed, never taken a life."
Jim saw the gun move away from his partner's neck, saw the man start to shake, then the gun was on the ground, Blair had his cuffs out, had the man against the block wall, was cuffing him, reading him his rights and Jim was walking toward them, his own gun holstered.
"Well, that was interesting. I personally could eat a horse right about now. How 'bout you, Chief?"
Blair's one word answer solicited a quick glance from Jim, who saw nothing unusual. Blair was looking out the window, a half smile on his face.
"Okay, before report time, how 'bout The Pancake House?"
Swell, another one word answer.
"Everything all right?" He managed to make his voice sound light.
"Yep. How about your senses? Everything back on line?"
"Couldn't be better, Chief." Well, at least we'd left the single responses behind.
Jim watched Blair move his pancakes around the plate.
"You're not eating."
"Yes, I am."
"You have a plate of four pancakes. You chopped them up into about 10 chunks apiece and you've eaten three chunks. You're - not - eating."
"I ate three chunks."
Jim's fork clinked against his plate as he dropped it in exasperation. "God dammit, Blair, what's wrong with you?" His voice was tight, the words almost hissed out, his nerves jangling.
Blair fell back against the vinyl boothback, surprise and shock written all over his face. His eyes blinked rapidly at him, his jaw clenching. Finally, "....nothing. What's wrong with you?"
The jangling of Jim's cellphone stopped his response. He took it out of his pocket, flipped it open and answered, "Ellison."
//Jim, meet Rafe and Connor at the Blue Ridge Cafe, we have a hostage
"Yes, sir, we're on our way." He shut the phone, tossed a few bills onto the table and said, "Come on, Chief, duty calls."
The hostage situation turned almost funny. The man, or *hostage keeper* as he was calling himself, was one, Lenny Bemeans and he was holding the staff of the cafe hostage because he claimed that the chef was responsible for his heart condition. He refused to let them go, and was holding them at gun point until the chef finished every one of the dinner meals. He wanted the chef to experience all that cholesterol first hand.
There were three police cars, two swat units, Rafe, Connor, Ellison and Sandburg. Jim had been on the bullhorn for several minutes, trying to talk the guy into surrendering, and was now, with Blair's advice, telling him about prison food.
Things suddenly went downhill when a waitress brought a plate of mashed potatoes and threw it at their tormentor and all hell broke loose with the guy barely escaping in one piece. But he did, and managed to go out the fire door, climb into someone's car and take off.
Naturally Jim was aware before anyone else that they no longer had a hostage situation and he jumped into the truck and took after him.
Blair stood a moment, worried, but as Rafe and Connor moved to help the ex-hostages, the sound of returning motors caught everyone's attention. The van that Bemeans had taken was careening *back* around the corner, the truck in hot pursuit.
Blair watched, amazed, as the van jumped the curb, rattled across the trash filled empty lot next to the diner and headed straight for the building, *and* Rafe *and* Connor *and* the exiting ex-hostages.
He pulled his gun, aimed and fired. He took out the right front tire, which caused the van to swerve away from the diner and abruptly change course. Straight for Blair.
The detective looked to his right, his left, and realized that he was trapped between Rafe's car and another police car. He ducked.
The van smashed into Rafe's car, sending it spinning into the other car. The grinding of metal against metal and of screeching tires froze everyone in their places. The truck swerved into the parking lot, came to jerky halt a few feet from the devastation with Jim jumping out just as all the vehicles came to a grinding stillness.
No one moved. No one breathed. Until Blair popped up, saying, "Whew."
Ducking had been the right thing to do as he'd thrown himself under Rafe's car, tucked himself into a tight ball and waited for the cars to move over him and hopefully miss him. They had and they did. Of course, he was now covered from head to foot with mud, and looked something like Swampthing, but hell, he was alive. Rafe and Connor ran to his side as Jim pulled the *hostage keeper*, unharmed, from the stolen van, read him his rights and cuffed him.
Most detectives kept a change of clothes for emergencies, like diving headfirst into a pile of mud, and Blair was no exception. Upon arriving back at the station, he'd immediately gone down to the lockeroom to shower and change, letting Jim tackle the paperwork.
As Jim sat working, their suspect already booked and downstairs in lock-up, Rafe and Megan perched on the edge of Rafe's desk and contemplated their friend.
"He looks okay," Rafe commented.
"Yes, he does. Remarkably okay. Considering."
Jim groaned and finally looked up. "Okay, what's wrong?"
Rafe glanced at Megan, who glanced at him, they both shrugged.
"Hey, nothing, Jim, nothing at all....except, well, you seem pretty calm. That's all." Rafe replied with a smirk.
"Calm? And why not?"
Megan jumped in with, "Well, your partner nearly bought it twice today and it's only," she checked her watch with great exaggeration, and added, "Noon. You're just taking it - well."
Jim stood, stuck his hands in his pockets and said, "We're all professionals here, guys. Risk is a part of the job. A part we *all* face. You two nearly bought it yourselves. How are you two feeling?"
Rafe and Connor gave each other another *look* and gave up. They went back to work.
Jim smiled, proud of his answer and decided, well, maybe he should go downstairs and check on Sandburg's progress.
The day moved on, quieter than the morning. At about two, Joel brought in pizza's for the gang.
Simon was definitely in a good mood, what with two sticky situations ending with the perps jailed and no detectives injured. In fact, he was feeling so good, he even joined everyone for the pizza.
For Blair, the world was getting darker. The pain was alive today, so alive that Blair felt - dead. He hadn't felt anything yet, not his near misses, no joy at being alive, no relief, nothing.
He watched the rest of the gang eating their pizza, joking, playing around, and felt - nothing.
Which made him question how he could exemplify pain, and yet felt nothing. Strange.
As he sat, playing with a piece of plain cheese pizza, he pondered love. He pondered living without it, knew that he couldn't, but wondered if what he was doing was indeed, living. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Jim talking with Henri, both laughing, sharing some sports joke and he realized how good Jim looked at that moment, not just exterior looks, but how good *he* looked. His expressions, his laugh and Blair realized that right now, Jim was happy, relaxed, almost - ebullient. Jovial was another good word. Blair enjoyed seeing it. He didn't have a clue as to it's cause, but it was good. Very good. And he couldn't live without it.
Live without Jim. Would the pain ease? The darkness go away? He knew the anwer. No. So, could he go on this way? He wasn't eating very well when these dark lonely moods struck, he didn't talk much either.....could he go on? At that moment, Jim's laughter moved through the bullpen bringing a smile to Blair's face. And an answer. How could he not? He wouldn't trade moments like these for anything. For just a moment, Blair felt his eyes fill, his heart hammer hard in his chest.....as he knew a moment of such deep wanting.....but he quickly bit down and deliberately picked up his pizza and took a big bite. He chewed, encouraging himself to chew one hundred times, to taste it, but he swallowed instead.
The sounds of his friends washed over him, Jim's laugh, Simon's booming voice, lecturing Rhonda on the ins and outs of good mozzarella, Joel telling Mike about his new stereo system, Corinne confessing to Megan that she did, in fact, have fantasies about other men when she was making love with her husband. Rafe, joking with Carl about some x-rated cartoon......Blair nodded to himself, yes, he had enough in his life, he did. He was lucky.
He got up and without anyone's notice, went into the small conference room, closed the door and picked up the phone. He dialed a number and waited.
"Yes, um, may I speak with Naomi Sandburg, please?"
//May I tell her who's calling?//
Blair paused, then said quietly, "Her son."
//Oh. Yes. I see. Um, just - a moment//
The voice was a man's. The place was one of the many sanctuaries to which Naomi would flee when the world got to be too much. She still hadn't fully worked through what had happened weeks ago, with Blair's dissertation or with his being a cop, so she'd gone to one of her hide-a-ways to process. Blair had left her alone, knowing she would be fine, in time. The man came back on.
//Uh, I'm afraid, I mean...well, she - isn't taking any calls - right
now....why don't you try back - later?//
Blair's stomach quivered, his fingers clenching around the phone. "could you tell her - it's important, please."
//I --- sure, just a minute//
It didn't take a minute.
//I'm sorry - she can't - come to the phone right now, why don't you call back later, okay?//
Blair sunk down into the chair behind him, his legs unable to hold him up. "...yes, fine....thank you." He hung up the phone.
Outside, his friends laughed and ate, none noticing the lone man in the conference room, head in his hands.
Blair did a masterful job of pulling himself together before rejoining his co-workers, but his skin burned with a need he couldn't give name to.....
Back at his desk, he worked, he talked, he laughed. Simon came by, perched uncharacteristically on Jim's desk, joked a bit, then sauntered back to his office.
At five o'clock, the two men closed up shop.
Computers were clicked off, desks rearranged to at least *look* neater, files carefully stacked, drawers closed. Jim had noticed that after lunch, Blair seemed - different, and he was determined to get the younger man to talk - maybe over a nice, quiet dinner.
"How do you feel about Santo's for dinner?"
Jim took Blair's coat and handed it over to him as he responded, "Dangerous? How?"
"Well, we haven't had a great deal of luck...eating, going out today, you know?" His smile was tricky.
"You dolt. I think we can risk it. Whatdya say?"
"I'm game if you are."
"You know, you looked like Richard Nixon just then....."
"Better than looking like Pat Nixon."
"Marginally, Chief, marginally."
Blair did a very adroit job of steering the conversation *away* from himself or the major part of the day, and he did this by asking questions. Questions about procedure, about the criminal mind, he even allowed Jim to give him a small lecture about the alley and no back-up. He admired Jim's control as the man quietly pointed out how, in the future, they might handle a similar incident. Blair put in his ideas and they were off and running.
Over the years, Blair had learned *how* to get Jim to talk senses, to discuss improving them, to work through any problems without getting Jim's dander up. Tonight was no exception and this eased them through the meal.
Jim dug into his Enchilada Monterey as Blair ate a bit of his Mexican Cesar salad, both indulging in a cold beer with their meal.
"....so you're saying," Blair asked, punctuating his words with a forkful of lettuce, "that in the future, if your senses are whacko and you indicate for me to proceed without you, I should ignore your words?"
Jim swallowed, took a swig of his beer, then answered, "That is not what I'm saying and you know it. I wasn't telling you to go out into the alley where a suspect might be hiding."
"So, everything would have been fine if he'd been hiding, oh, say behind a case? And I walked forward, just to check things out, mind you, and *then* he comes up behind me...."
"I'm not going to win this one, am I?"
"Jim, do you *ever*?"
"God, I hate you."
Blair stuck out his tongue and Jim smiled, glad for a moment, to notice that some sparkle had returned to his best friend.
They finished off their meal, paid the tab and headed home, sated, exhausted, but somewhat content and since Blair had unexpectedly had a second beer, it was decided to leave the Volvo in the parking lot and take the truck.
The drive home was quiet, the radio playing softly in the background.
Jim decided that now might be a good time.....
"Chief? You seem to be a little under the weather, mood wise, lately.
"Under the weather, mood wise, I like that phrase, Jim. Yeah, I guess I am." Blair decided that partial truth would work here. "I tried to call Naomi earlier - she wouldn't - take my call. Guess I'm bummed."
Jim's fingers tightened around the steering wheel as the hurt in his friends voice came through loud and clear. "I'm sorry, Chief. You haven't spoken to her since she left, after...."
"No," Blair interrupted to keep Jim from having to say it, "No, I haven't."
"But I'm sure she'll come around - in time. She sometimes has to process for quite a while, and I certainly gave her a lot to process."
Jim heard the guilt now, side by side with the pain and he found himself compelled to ask what he'd been avoiding for weeks.
"You're not sorry about the decision to go to the academy, are you?"
"Nope. Not in the slightest. It's just knowing that mom has to work through it though, and hoping that she does...that we'll be - okay."
The signal ahead went red, Jim slowed and stopped, giving him the opportunity to actually look at Blair. "Come on, Chief, you don't seriously think that this will damage your relationship with your mother, do you? She's your mother. She loves you."
"Jim, parents and kids aren't immune to relationships being ruined or irrevocably damaged. You of all people should know that."
"But we're talking you and Naomi. Not me and my family. She loves you so much, Blair. She'll come around."
"....never enough, never enough....." Blair whispered, almost to himself.
The signal went green and Jim moved ahead, making the right onto Prospect and pulling into his parking spot. He turned off the ignition, turned in his seat and faced Blair.
"I've never seen such love, as she has for you, or vice versa. She'll call, Blair, she will."
"Jim, I appreciate your words, I do, but I think this time, I've pushed her too far. I don't regret my decision, but let's face it, decisions are made and people are hurt. I've hurt her, I've hurt you, I've hurt a great many people lately."
He paused, took a breath and asked, "Jim, you can't honestly say that we're completely okay yet, can you? There's still the trust issue between us, I know that. Well, it's much the same between mom and me. I'm not the man she believed me to be. I've seen it in her eyes, hell, I've seen it in yours. And it's cold, let's move this indoors." With that, he popped open the truck door, jumped out and started for the lobby, leaving a dumbstruck Jim behind.
Jesus, where the hell did that come from?
Surely Blair can't have believed....not all this time.....dear god. Jim hurried after his friend.
Jim rushed into the lobby, noted the elevator sign and started up the stairs. He could hear Blair's footsteps above him, could hear his friends heart beating, the slight rush of air as he expended energy climbing, and all Jim wanted to do.....
He turned the corner, saw Blair just above him, called out his name and Blair paused, turned and waited.
Breathing harshly, more with emotion than exertion, Jim said, "Chief."
Blair smiled wanly, took a step up and his foot slipped. For a moment, he teetered, arms waving a bit as he tried to catch his balance. He leaned forward, his foot hitting the top step and he went down hard on his knee.
Jim watched, almost paralyzed, as Blair precariously balanced, and he finally moved, ready to catch him, to stop his fall, but now, with Blair down on his knees on the top landing, Jim felt the air rush from his lungs, and with two huge steps, he was beside Blair, was bending, scooping, had Blair in his arms and was moving toward their front door.
"Uh, Jim? Jim? You're - like, *carrying* me. He-lll-o?"
The key was fitted clumsily into the lock as Jim grunted, "uh, huh."
"I'm a guy, Jim. A - guy. I'm also unhurt."
Jim stepped sideways into their home, nodding his understanding of Blair's words but not putting him down.
"I'm a heavy guy, Jim. Okay, I'm not Simon, or even Rafe, but I am heavy and this is, like, *weird*, you know? Come on, put me down."
Jim gazed around the loft and said, "nuh, huh."
Jim's arms around him were begining to hurt his soul, because they didn't mean anything and he needed them to mean something, so he pushed, gave a little jump but Jim only tightened his hold.
"God dammit, put me down. I'm not a baby, or a woman, not that a woman would need you to pick her up.....I mean, I don't want to be politically incorrect here, but..." Jim wasn't putting him down, and Blair was getting edgy, and needy, and liking it too much, and it wasn't right, because it still didn't mean anything.....And then he realized Jim was shaking, shaking hard, and the world crystallized as Blair realized Jim was reacting to the days events, nothing more.....
At least, that's what he thought....until Jim buried his head beside Blair's. Until Jim's lips were resting against Blair's neck, Jim's breath caressing his skin......"jim don't do this, man, please, you don't understand.....you don't know what i need...please, please.....," but Jim just buried his face deeper, nuzzling Blair's hair and neck and Blair found his hand stroking Jim's hair and the words Blair had held inside for so long, tumbled out....."love you, jim, love you so much, die for you, man.....", and then a miracle as Blair heard Jim's moaned words, "don't die, don't ever die again, stay with me, stay always, love you, blair, stay with me..."
Jim dropped gently to the floor, still holding Blair, and his mouth somehow found Blair's and they let their lips touch, then open, and Blair's hands came up to grasp Jim's head and Jim's hands came up, fingers burying themselves in hair and they held onto each other, the kiss desperate and hard and passionate. Jim broke away, but started planting small, desperate kisses all over Blair's face, neck, ears, eyes, every inch of skin he could find, as Blair's fingers tore at Jim's shirt buttons, then smoothed over Jim's chest, up and over his neck, then his face as if memorizing every line, his eyes following his fingers, his mouth, when not covered by Jim's, saying, "love you, won't ever leave, won't ever die again, love you, love you.....", and Jim responding, "scared me today, love you, taste you, feel you....".
Their bodies went down, Jim pushing gently, fingers now trying to remove Blair's shirt, torn between the buttons and moving down to Blair's jeans, doing both as Blair's fingers were sliding down Jim's zipper, hand anxious to take, to hold Jim, and shirts were half off, jeans half down, and the two men were humping anxiously, hands pumping, lips searching, finding, the kiss matching the rhythm of their thrusts, and Blair came, his body arched back, his head tilted up and back and Jim stayed with him, tongue buried deep, drinking in Blair's yell, then following him, coming in Blair's hand, so hard, so muted, so desperate......
Breath, lungs, heart, skin, hair, lips, Jim could feel them all. Blair's hand, on his arm, Blair's legs, lost under Jim's body, both of them still half dressed, semen everywhere, but all Jim could concentrate on was - Blair's breathing.
Jim planted his lips on Blair's neck and Blair turned his head, his eyes opening, their smokiness warming Jim inside out.
"You okay?" Jim's voice was still husky, passion filled.
Blair nodded, to full to speak.
All Blair could do was nod again.
Now Blair shook his head, his eyes rememorizing Jim's face. The normally pale blue eyes, now dusky, the long lashes, the lips, curved into a smile - for him, the chin.....and Blair finally found his voice, "you know, you're pretty good looking."
Jim chuckled, ducking his head down to latch onto Blair's neck again, then murmuring, "you're cuter."
"...but you're *handsome*, I'm just - cute. people always wanted to pinch my cheeks."
Jim's left hand moved around and under Blair's body, grabbed a handful of delectable ass and pinched.
Now it was Blair's turn to chuckle as he swatted Jim across the back of his head and quipped, "not *those* cheeks, asshole."
"Nice turn of phrase, Chief."
Their eyes connected again and they smiled deeply, sharing a secret.
"I guess I should have nearly fallen down those stupid stairs earlier, uh?"
"oh, yeah," Jim breathed out.
"So this means you love me?"
"Nah, just wanna fuck."
Blair caught Jim's lower lip in his mouth, bit down lightly and mumbled, "i've always loved that word....fuck."
"fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck....."
"Think we should get off the floor? You're not as young as you used to be....."
"Who carried who?"
"Please, don't remind me."
Jim pushed himself up, pulling Blair with him and they were standing, and staring, and smiling like complete idiots.
Blair's smile finally faded as he whispered, "i didn't think this would happen, that you could or would love me. i was ready to live without it."
Jim stepped in close, placing both hands on either side of the face he couldn't live without and whispered, "i'm so damn slow, so - fucking cautious."
Jim bent his head and let it touch Blair's forehead and all he wanted to do was hold this man, into eternity. He wrapped his arms around him, folding him close and just heard a murmured, "yes."