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Summary: Set a year after the events of TSbyBS. Blair is a cop and, although he is still working as Jim's partner, things are not going so well. An unexpected tragedy brings matters out into the open. A very sad tale, but with a glimmer of hope.

Warning: Secondary character death.

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An Anchor in the Storm
by Fluterbev

January 2004

He knew he should be happy for Jim. God help him, he didn’t begrudge his friend any of the admiration he deserved. But sometimes, Blair just wished he could have just a little part of it too. To feel that sense of community, of family. Of home.

Of belonging.

The joy in Jim’s face gave Blair a feeling of warmth inside, despite his own yearning. It was great, he mused, to see Jim like this. Bullshitting with the other cops, trading good-natured insults while they patted him on the back in tacit congratulation for the bust of the century. It was all too rare that the senior detective in their partnership allowed himself to be one of the guys, letting himself relax and be a part of this closed society he inhabited.

The same closed society that Blair would forever be excluded from, despite the badge clipped to his belt. Condemned by fate, circumstance, karma and his own stupidity to patrol the periphery; to remain on the outside looking in.

Invisible as always Blair took one last longing look, then slipped out of the bullpen. He wouldn’t be missed, unless you counted the subliminal sense of relief the other cops no doubt would feel at his absence. In the year since he had become a cop his place in the pecking order had been made very clear to him. And Jim? He would be relieved too. He enjoyed hanging out with the others, and he wouldn’t feel obliged to watch out for Blair if he wasn’t there. He’d be able to relax and enjoy himself. And that was good. Because more than anything, Blair wanted Jim to be happy.

It was good that one of them could be.

Out in the street he rolled up his collar against the cold, as he prepared to walk the few blocks to his apartment. He liked to walk to and from work. It gave him time to shed one persona and adopt another during the twenty-minute journey, to subsume his loneliness on the way to the PD under a stoic cop façade. Now he did it in reverse, his emotional fortitude evaporating into the cold air along with a cloud of steamy breath. The cold seeped into his pores, his face numb in the sub-zero temperatures.

The walk calmed him like meditation, as it always did. By the time he reached the front door of his apartment complex, the worst of his self-pity had been rationalized into negation. He had a home – okay, so it wasn’t even half as nice as the loft had been, but hey… It was a roof over his head. He had his health – well, the old gunshot wound in his leg bothered him a bit in this cold weather, but that was just a fact of life, wasn’t it? Kind of like an old war wound – pretty cool, actually. He faced yet another night alone – but he liked his solitude, didn’t he? He was gainfully employed, still working with Jim, despite everything that had happened. And if Jim chose not to give him the time of day, hey, he deserved it, didn’t he? He could deal with Jim’s antipathy. He didn’t need his approval.

He didn’t need his friendship.

He sure as hell didn’t need his love.

"Damn," he said aloud, as he unlocked his apartment. He’d almost managed to check his negativity at the door - until he’d started to think about Jim, that was.

Ruthlessly thrusting thoughts of his partner to one side, Blair walked in and closed the door, keeping on his heavy coat for now. The heating had been out for three days, most of which he had spent engaged in fourteen hour shifts while they worked the case, and damp was heavy in the air, giving his apartment an abandoned feel. He hoped it was fixed now, although he understood the difficult position the landlord was in, trying to get workmen out this close to Christmas.

He flicked the heating switch experimentally, hoping desperately to hear the boiler fire up, but silence reigned. Looked like it would be out over the holiday, he conceded resignedly, this being Christmas Eve. He shrugged. He had the electric space heater, at least. Hurriedly, needing to dispel the frigidity, he switched it on.

His stomach growled, and he moved over to the refrigerator. Inside, the shelves were bare. His cupboards were similarly empty - he hadn’t had a chance to shop for a week, living instead off takeout and doughnuts at the station. He smiled ruefully at the thought – he really had gone native.

A phone call later, and pizza had been ordered. The space heater was throwing out a pool of light and warmth, warding off the chill. And Blair had turned on the computer and connected to the net, preparing to lose himself for a few hours in his customary virtual world of anthropology groups and mailing lists. A world where he was an anonymous, faceless contributor to an online community. A world where, thanks to the beauty of pseudonyms, he wasn’t known as a hard-faced fraud who just didn’t understand when to quit.

He opened his mail folder as soon as he was connected and, to his surprise, saw there was an e-mail from Naomi in among the anthropology list mails. He hadn’t seen her since last year, in the bullpen just after Simon had thrown him the badge. She had been all enthusiastic delight, at least on the surface. But Blair knew her well, and hadn’t been surprised when she disappeared off on her travels immediately afterwards, practically severing all contact with him apart from the odd isolated e-mail like this.

It hadn’t really bothered him. He knew she felt enormous guilt over the disruption she had caused in his life, and that she saw her actions as pushing him along a path she emphatically did not want to see him on. He had been content to let her deal in her own way, used to her tactic of solitude when she needed to process some negative emotion. He had been secure in the knowledge she would come back to visit eventually, and all would be well between them.

He decided to read her message first, and was halfway through it before it registered that this was not actually from Naomi, despite the return e-mail address. It was simply a direction for him to call a number, the area code of which he didn’t recognize. It was signed ‘Terri Keane’. He wondered if it was some sort of scam, or maybe one of those virus e-mails, even as he reached absently for his cell. For all he knew, it could already be eating his hard drive from the inside. He would find out soon enough, he thought as he punched the buttons on the phone.

A female voice answered. “Hello?”

"Oh, hey," Blair said. "This is Blair Sandburg. I need to speak to…" he checked the name again, "Terri Keane?"

Something in the timbre of the voice changed. “Blair, that’s me. I’m Terri.” He heard an audible swallow. “I’m a friend of your mom’s, honey. Naomi was staying with me for a while. I… I’m afraid I have some bad news for you.”

A sense of prescience filled Blair. A sense that, somehow, this was about to be a defining moment in his life. "What news?" he asked, his voice seeming oddly detached from the rest of him.

“Oh honey, there’s no easy way to say this. Your mom was killed in an accident a couple of days ago. She didn’t suffer, Blair – it happened quickly and she was…” the voice was abruptly cut off as Blair clicked off the phone.

No.

Just… no.

The hum of the space heater, the whir of the computer, and the distant sound of a television blaring away in the apartment below enveloped him. He couldn’t move, his hand gripping the phone like a vice. Somewhere distant a stereo blasted out ‘Oh Holy Night’, the Nat King Cole recording of the song his mom loved. His mom had loved. His mom…

The phone vibrated and rang in his hand, the sound shockingly loud. Glancing at the caller display, he recognized it as the number he had just called - Terri Keane’s number. She had evidently decided to call him back, now she had his number. Without conscious thought, he hurled the shrilling phone from him with a baseball pitcher’s force, wanting more than anything for the noise to stop. With a sickening crack the phone hit the wall and disintegrated, pieces of plastic showering down and hitting the floor like rain or tears.

But peace was not resumed, despite the ringing’s abrupt cessation. The surge of adrenaline had obliterated it, the sounds of life elsewhere in the building obscured by the blood pounding in his ears, his panting breaths, and the inner voice refuting the validity of Terri Keane’s words. It was a lie, a scam. It had to be. He should know better than to trust unsolicited e-mail purporting to be from his mom. It was a sick joke, a hoax. A fraud.

But although he resolved to disbelieve, his body betrayed him. His head ached, his hands shook, and he felt like he was going to be sick. The distant sounds of voices, televisions and music from other apartments mocked his aloneness. The aloneness of someone whose last bastion of support had quite probably just been ripped away.

A knock at the door jerked him out of his shocked reverie and, for a moment, he blinked stupidly, before he remembered that he had called for pizza. Already reaching mechanically into his pocket for money he opened the door, then looked up in surprise as he found it wasn’t the pizza delivery guy after all.

"Chief," Jim acknowledged in greeting, his face expressionless as he stood on the threshold. "Can I come in?"

"Uh, yeah." Blair stood aside, too disassociated even to wonder why Jim was here at his place instead of out partying with his buddies. He closed the door and trailed mechanically after Jim into the apartment.

Jim was standing in the center of the single living room-cum-bedroom-cum-kitchen, looking around. "Nice place," he commented, his tone indicating that he didn’t think so for a second. It was, Blair readily admitted, a hole – all that Blair could afford on the salary of a junior detective with enormous student debts and fines to pay off.

Still pole-axed, all Blair could think of to say was, "Uh, what are you doing here, man?"

Jim looked at him, his expression hard. "I was just wondering, Chief, why it is that my partner didn’t stick around to hang with me and the guys after work." He laughed, shortly and without humor. "I mean, it’s you who’s always going on about ‘closed societies’ and rituals, right? Sure, you pull your weight. You always were a good cop, even when you were just an observer. But you’ve gotta know by now there’s more to being a cop than just doing the job."

Blair’s first thought was to wonder how it was that Jim had gotten it so wrong. It had been made explicitly clear to Blair in numerous ways exactly how welcome he was in the ‘brotherhood’ that Jim was a part of. But something else was pressing at him right now, something he didn’t want to face, but that he knew he would have to deal with, nevertheless. "Look," he hedged, "this is a really bad time, man. I can’t talk about this right now."

Jim nodded. "Uh huh," he said sarcastically. "Fine. Well, as soon as you can make time in your schedule, you know where to find me." He turned. "And by the way," he threw back over his shoulder, as he moved towards the door. "Simon wants to talk to you. He wants to discuss your future in the department. I’m not the only one concerned about your pissy attitude." He opened the door. "See you on Tuesday," he said.

Blair felt as though he had been punched in the gut. For a second he couldn’t get his breath. In that snapshot of a moment he saw himself clearly – a man who had lost or thrown away everything he ever cared about. His mom, the friendship he and Jim had once shared, and his entire career, both as an anthropologist and a cop. And he knew that if Jim walked out the door now, there was nothing and no one left for him to live for, and a convenient police issue .38 to hand to make the pain go away.

The door was closing when he forced out, "Wait," his voice a strangled croak. "Don’t go." The desperation in his tone appalled him. "Please!"

Jim paused, then moved back in and closed the door. Blair couldn’t look at him, couldn’t face Jim’s inevitable contempt. But Jim’s voice, when it came, almost undid him with its unexpected gentleness. "Blair," Jim breathed. "What is going on with you?"

"My M…" Blair faltered, the words choking him. He swallowed and tried again. "My mom is… Naomi’s dead." The words were out, he’d said it. It was real. "She’s dead, Jim," he said again, glancing at Jim for only a second, afraid to focus. To his dismay, a solitary tear spilled out of his eye, and he felt it trickling down his face. In its wake he bowed his head, waiting for judgment; disgust for his weakness.

"Oh god," he heard Jim breathe. And in a heartbeat, arms - real, warm, alive - wrapped around him, and his face was pressed into a solid mass of muscle. "Oh god," Jim said again, his breath hot on Blair’s face. "I’m so sorry, Chief. I’m so sorry."

The first sob slipping out took Blair by surprise. The second made him convulse, as though it was ripped from his depths, the pain of everything he had held inside for so long erupting with the force of a volcano. He struggled in Jim’s arms, trying to move away. He couldn’t do this. He couldn’t. But Jim held him, using brute force and tenderness to keep him still, his voice a murmur: "It’s okay, Blair. I’ve got you. I’ve got you," and other similar nonsense over and over. And, after a brief struggle, Blair gave in and allowed himself to be held, finally letting go of the pain and the agony in a torrent of violent emotion.

He’d never done anything like this before. Sure, he’d cried before - he was nothing if not in touch with his emotions. But he’d done it alone, in private. Guys who rode with cops, who ended up becoming cops, had to hang tough, bullshit, engage in macho backslapping. They didn’t weep all over their tough ex-military partners. He had enough problems fitting in without making himself look like a complete wuss.

But despite knowing all of that, he found himself clinging onto Jim like a drowning man – and wasn’t that an image he really didn’t want to reflect on too much? And, oddly, Jim was holding him back just as fiercely. Then, after a moment, the taller man sank down to the floor, bringing Blair’s unresisting form down with him. Blair ended up cradled in Jim’s arms, his head pressed to Jim’s shoulder by one strong, gentle hand, all the while Blair sobbing himself inside out.

Blair couldn’t stop. And what was even more demeaning, he didn’t want to stop. Because he didn’t want this to end. Jim’s arms around him felt so good - like a haven, a sanctuary. Like something he was starved of. He was terrified that when this ended, he’d never feel that incredible comfort and safety again - and that was one more loss he couldn’t handle right now.

The thought spurred on another rush of tears, and Jim’s hand moved to massage the tense muscles at the back of his neck. To Blair’s immense astonishment, he felt Jim’s lips touch his temple in a brief kiss before pulling him closer. "It’s okay," Jim breathed again. "Just relax, buddy. I’ve got you."

Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, the tears and the awful gut wrenching sobs died away. Blair stayed where he was, leaning on Jim shamelessly, dreading the moment that Jim would push him away.

But Jim didn’t. Not yet at any rate. Instead, Blair heard Jim’s voice rumble through the broad chest his ear was pressed up against. "What happened, Chief?"

Blair swallowed. His voice was hoarse when he finally found it. "I don’t know. I got a call, just before you got here. I… I didn’t want to hear it. I smashed my phone, man."

"Okay." Jim’s voice was gentle, soothing. "It’s okay, We’ll deal with it. Don’t worry."

"Okay." The vulnerability in his own voice, in his gut, scared him. "Jim…" he began, horrified at the neediness in his tone.

But Jim stopped him "Shh, it’s all right. Relax, Chief. Just lean on me for a while, huh? We’ll get through this."

We, Jim had said. We’ll get through this. It was something Blair had thought he’d never hear applied to the two of them again, so much had gone wrong between them. It was something he desperately wanted, he now realized. Something he no longer believed he could live without. In desperate response, his grip on Jim tightened, and Jim squeezed him reassuringly back in return.

But all good things must come to an end, and this situation was no exception. A knock at the door broke the spell, and Jim cocked his head, listening to and smelling the intruder to Blair’s sanctuary. "You order pizza, Chief?"

"Uh huh." Blair shifted as Jim moved, feeling bereft as Jim’s comforting arms disappeared, the lingering coldness of the air in the apartment making him shiver as Jim’s body heat was withdrawn. Distantly, he heard Jim talking to the guy at the door, taking delivery of the unwanted pizza. He thought about moving, getting up. The floor was cold and hard, compounding his misery. But he didn’t feel like seeking the comfort of the threadbare couch. There was only one source of comfort that he knew, and that was currently across the room talking to the pizza guy.

The door closed, and Jim moved over to the table, carrying the pizza box. Absently, as though working on autopilot, Blair reached into his pocket to pull out his wallet to pay for the pizza, but Jim called from the table, where he was laying the box down. "Save it, Chief. I got it." And, seemingly incapable of doing anything but follow orders, Blair tucked the wallet back in.

Jim’s figure loomed before him in the next moment, and arms reached down to grasp his. "Come on, Sandburg. Get up," Jim said, hauling Blair’s butt bodily off the floor. Blair went with the flow, allowing Jim to maneuver him across the room. Oddly, his partner steered him to the bed and urged him to lie down, and Blair felt his shoes being untied and pulled off, and the quilt being placed over him and tucked in. He made a questioning noise, but Jim shushed him, patting him on the shoulder. "Take it easy, buddy. Just rest a minute, okay? I’ve got your back."

So Blair lay there, eyes closed, listening to the strangely comforting sounds of Jim moving around his one room apartment. He heard his partner’s voice as he spoke into his own cell phone. "This is Detective Ellison, of the Cascade PD. Is this Terri Keane? Ms Keane, I’m calling on behalf of…" Absently, Blair wondered where Jim had gotten the number from, then remembered he had left the e-mail open on his PC, so Jim must have read it. Oddly, that breach of his privacy didn’t bother him at all. He drifted a little, secure in the knowledge that Jim had everything in hand, and Jim’s voice diminished to a murmur, resonant of security, as Blair’s consciousness slid into uneasy dreams.

But the wrongness hit him in the gut suddenly, jerking him awake on the edge of oblivion, heart pounding. Naomi. Naomi was dead. "Oh god," he said faintly, curling over onto his side in agony. "Oh man." She was gone. His mom, his beautiful, unique, cherished mom. His only family in the world, his anchor in the storm. And now she was gone, and he was alone. Finally, he really was alone.

"Not alone, Chief." Blair had no idea he had expressed the thought aloud until Jim spoke. The bed dipped, and warmth enveloped him from behind as an arm snaked around his chest, pulling Blair back against his partner’s chest. "I’m here," Jim murmured. "You’re not alone."

Blair wanted to believe it. He desperately wanted to. But he knew better; had, in fact, known better for a long time now. Whatever bonds he and Jim had shared, of friendship or whatever else, had been obliterated, leaving behind an empty partnership maintained purely out of expediency.

So why, then, was he so willing to give in to his craving for Jim’s care now, when he knew only too well that this longed for closeness, this comfort, would evaporate once the crisis was over?

"Shh," Jim said again, although Blair knew that this time he hadn’t spoken his thoughts out loud. "Just relax, Chief. We’ll sort it out. Just rest."

Having no other recourse, wounded in mind and soul, Blair surrendered and finally slipped into sleep.

***

Jesus, Jim thought exhaustedly a little while later, running a hand over his face as he sank heavily into the room’s single chair. He cast his eye around Sandburg’s sorry excuse for an apartment, then glanced back at Blair, who was asleep on the bed, tear tracks drying on his cheeks.

The kid, Ellison told himself, was a mess.

Things had been tense between them for a long while. Jim shook his head wryly at the understatement – ‘tense’, actually, didn’t begin to cover it. Since that whole disastrous media scenario months ago, things between him and his partner had gone downhill fast and stayed there.

The rollercoaster ride had finally hit rock bottom and run out of gas.

That things had to come to a head sooner or later was, in part, the reason Jim had come over here tonight – to try to find a way to get through to the old Blair Sandburg somehow. Ellison hadn’t been bullshitting about what Simon had said – their Captain had implied that unless Ellison could fix whatever the hell was wrong with Sandburg, he would split them up and assign them to new partners. There was even a chance, Banks had told him, that Sandburg might not pass his probationary period if the situation carried on like this.

Since he’d become a cop, Sandburg had closed himself off – from Ellison, from his friends and colleagues, and evidently from Naomi as well. The previously witty, sociable grad student had become a hard-assed, don’t-fuck-with-me cop, keeping colleagues and friends alike at arms’ length with an attitude that emphatically warned: ‘Don’t touch me’. It had pissed off the other cops they worked with big time. That Sandburg had scored the fast track from rookie to detective in one smooth move was unpopular enough, without the junior detective also taking a stance that most people interpreted as: ‘Hey look at me, I may be a fraud but I’m vastly superior to you guys’.

Sandburg had moved out of Jim’s loft before starting at the Police Academy, and hadn’t left a forwarding address. The cold shoulder he had presented to Jim ever since had made it very clear that, as far as he was concerned, their relationship was now strictly business. And after Sandburg had graduated, and earned the right (however much it was resented by his brothers in blue) to hold a gold shield, he’d done the job more than competently, just as Ellison had known he would. But he’d done it with as much fellow-feeling and enthusiasm as an automaton.

Spurred on by Captain Banks’s threat, Jim had finally decided to push Blair a little tonight. Force some kind of reaction, and get their personal difficulties out in the open. Maybe clear the air, and come back after their Christmas two-day vacation to start afresh. It was, he knew, an ironic turnaround from the way things had been early in their association, when he’d been the one most likely to clam up, and Blair had been the one to dig a confession out of him.

But, not surprisingly, Jim’s simmering anger over the whole thing had fired up at the first sign of rejection. Blair hadn’t wanted to talk – had told him it was a bad time. And Jim had, as usual, seen red. And he’d wondered what the hell he was even doing this for, when Sandburg had made it so abundantly clear for so long that his personal life was none of Ellison’s – or anyone else’s - damned business.

And then, just when Jim was finally ready to tell Simon to go ahead and split them up anyway - because he just couldn’t work with this arrogant little fucker anymore - he’d glimpsed something unexpected through the crack in Sandburg’s armor. He’d heard Blair’s voice, begging him - begging him, for Christ’s sakes – not to go. And for the first time, he’d seen with the clarity of sentinel vision that what he’d been picking up on all these months in Sandburg wasn’t arrogance, but agony.

Why the hell, he wondered, hadn’t he really looked at his partner before now? What good were these incredible senses of his, if they were always focused on everything but the people - the person - who really mattered? And Blair did matter, despite the fact they had taken such a wrong turn. Ellison had meant it months back in the thick of media hell, when he’d told Sandburg he’d been a great friend, and the best cop Jim had ever met.

Some friend, he berated himself in disgust, he’d been in return.

He should have known by now, after all the years they had been together, that Blair was a master of disguise. Now at last he saw it. All these months, Sandburg had hidden behind an impervious façade, while something had been eating him alive from the inside out. It didn’t take a lot of imagination to work out what that ‘something’ might be - Ellison had been blind and stupid to ever assume that Blair’s career suicide and its associated fallout hadn’t come with a cost.

Whatever was wrong with Sandburg right now went much deeper than his mother’s sudden death, Jim knew for certain. That was just the icing on this particularly inedible cake; the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Jesus, he’d never, in all the years he had known Blair, seen him in a state like this. Yeah, he’d seen Blair freak on occasion - but his partner usually tended more towards anger than tears when upset. Ellison vividly remembered Blair mouthing off when his friend Sweet Roy Williams had been murdered, as well as his outburst at the murder scene of one of his colleagues when Cassie Wells had acted less than tactfully. And any other negative emotions Blair expressed had usually been purged in private, thanks to Blair’s tendency to disappear off alone when things got too much for him.

And wasn’t that the kicker? Finally, Ellison understood. Blair had taken himself off alone again, hadn’t he? Only this time he hadn’t come back home once he’d dealt. He’d not managed to deal with it at all - this thing was too big, too monstrous for him to battle on his own.
And so, at the extremity of his pain, buffeted by untamable waves of emotion and being pulled inexorably under, Blair had finally reached out in desperation. He’d grabbed at Jim, desperately clutching, seeking a lifeline.

And, thank god, Jim had caught him and held on.

Looking back at the silent figure wrapped in bleak misery on the bed, Ellison made a vow. I’m here now, buddy, he told Blair silently. I’m not falling for your bullshit routine anymore, and I’m not letting go.

I won’t let you drown again.

***

The memorial service, one month after Naomi’s untimely death and unceremonious cremation, was unusual, to say the least.

It was more like an outdoor folk festival than a funeral, Ellison thought to himself with amusement. Neo-pagans and aging hippies, sitting round a Californian campfire playing Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan numbers on an incongruous array of instruments, and the odd whiff of aromatic smoke he didn’t want to know too much about. Wrinkling his nose at the smell, he told himself sternly that he was off duty right now, and out of his jurisdiction anyway. And it would be pretty bad form if he arrested Naomi’s friends for possession at her own funeral.

Surreptitiously, Jim watched his partner wander around the campsite, putting on a show, smiling and chatting with Naomi’s wacky acquaintances. Blair glanced across at him as a particularly noxious cloud of chemical laden smoke wafted close to him, and rolled his eyes in exasperation, his grin matching Ellison’s.

Weaving through the crowd, the two of them came together finally, drawn like magnets. Jim put out an arm and drew Blair close to his side. "You doing okay, Chief?" he asked, as he squeezed a tense shoulder reassuringly.

Blair nodded. "I’m good, man." He looked calm, but Ellison could see the ever-present sadness deep in his eyes. "I feel a little nauseous," he went on in an undertone, "but it’s getting better, like the doc said it would."

The sickness was an initial side effect of the anti-depressants Sandburg had finally agreed to take, once he had accepted that he needed more help than St John’s Wort and other herbal remedies could provide. It was a measure of exactly how bad things had gotten that Blair had been persuaded to take pharmaceutical methods of support, in addition to seeing his shrink twice a week.

Changing the subject, Blair smiled up at him. "Isn’t this great?" he said. "She’d have loved this. I can’t believe how many of her friends managed to come."

"Yeah," Jim agreed. "She would." Keeping his arm around Blair’s shoulders, he nodded towards a white robed woman, who was setting up a weird looking altar. "What’s with the Wicked Witch of the West over there, Toto?"

Sandburg mock punched him on the arm. "Keep it down, man!" he hissed. "That’s Rainbow Sky. Naomi used to be in a coven with her, back when she was dabbling in Wicca. She’s gonna do a ceremony to help send Naomi’s spirit on its way."

Jim grinned in amusement. "Is this when we all strip off and dance around the campfire naked?"

Blair snorted. "In your dreams, man."

Ellison nodded sagely. "I’m familiar with those kind of dreams, Chief."

They stood there together for a while, bantering back and forth, Blair seemingly content to soak up the comfort of his partner’s touch. Despite being understandably melancholy, Blair seemed a lot better generally than he had at any time since his depression was diagnosed. It had helped when recently he’d taken medical leave, while he took time to re-assess his future with Cascade PD.

Moving out of that hovel he’d been renting and back into the loft had been an infinite improvement too, as far as Jim was concerned.

Personally, Jim hoped that Blair would decide to give being a cop another chance, once he’d gotten his head back together. He hated it that his partner felt he’d failed, somehow, at yet another career. His instinct was to push him back up on the horse, because running from your fears - as he well knew - didn’t make them go away. You had to face them, or they destroyed you. Blair had undoubtedly gotten off to a bad start at the PD, but Jim was certain that the situation was salvageable. And this time, he would be there provide support and watch his partner’s back, like he should have been doing all along.

As well as battling his psychological issues, Blair had, thanks to Jim’s intervention, another big fight on his hands as well. Jim had engaged the help of his father’s fancy lawyers to take out lawsuits against Berkshire Publishing and Rainier University. Both organizations had screwed Blair over royally, and Jim wanted to see a little payback, despite Blair’s initial reluctance to go along with it.

He was through with letting people hurt Blair. God knows, he’d done enough of that himself to last a lifetime.

There was still a hard road ahead. Decisions to make; demons to lay at rest. But at last they were doing it together. And Jim fully intended to stand firm beside his friend from now on – that same friend who had given up his life’s work to protect him, and been wounded so badly in the process.

It looked like Naomi’s Wiccan friend was ready to start her ceremony, as the music had ceased and people had begun to drift over. Jim looked down at Blair, whose eyes were once again dark with sorrow. "Hey," he murmured. "You gonna be all right with this?"

Blair swallowed. "Let’s just get it over with, man," he said, his voice rough with misery.

Ellison nodded, and keeping his arm around Sandburg, walked beside him to join the others. And he stayed beside him as the ritual began. Weathering the tide of Blair’s grief, holding fast.

An anchor in the storm.


~End




Author's Note: There is a companion piece for this story here: Not Waving, But Drowning




Comments are welcome, but absolutely not necessary - all of my stories are offered freely and without obligation. If you do wish to comment below please sign your name/pseudonym if you are not logged-in to Dreamwidth or Open ID, or alternatively you can email me at fluterbev@gmail.com



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Date: 2007-08-01 12:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klgrem.livejournal.com
What a fantastic story this was. Just simply amazing. I'm glad you started this journal. :)

Date: 2007-08-01 07:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Thanks so much! I'm totally thrilled you are enjoying my stories.

I'm really glad I started this journal too, especially if it helps people find stuff they've not read before. I will be adding a bunch more of my older gen stories today, so prepare to be spammed!

Date: 2007-08-01 09:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klgrem.livejournal.com
Woo Hoo! Just sorry I had to go to bed so soon. I'll be reading today. :)

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