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Summary: This is a companion piece for An Anchor in the Storm

Warning: Secondary character death

Author's Note: I wrote this story for [livejournal.com profile] rhianne, as part of a writing meme in my personal journal. Her request was: The story is Anchor in the Storm, and I want to know what happened between Jim and Blair after the scene where Blair went to sleep once Jim had found out about Naomi, and before the funeral scene.

Acknowledgment: The title is borrowed from the Stevie Smith poem of the same name.





Not Waving, But Drowning
By Fluterbev

January 2007



Naomi’s death had been, Blair now realized, merely the final blow in a long line of impacts.

Before he’d gotten the news, he’d managed to keep his head above water. Frantically bailing, yes; but still managing to keep afloat, no matter how much effort it took to remain there. But the tidal wave of loss that he’d suffered when his mother died had swamped him; inexorably dragging him under the surface, and leaving him shipwrecked and adrift.

He’d still be there, floundering in deep water, but for Jim. Scratch that, he’d have drowned.

Washed up now on the shore, hauled there by the life-saving actions of his friend, Blair still felt oddly, for much of the time, like he was swimming underwater. It seemed as if he was observing the world through thick aquarium glass, through which everything was distorted; making harmless guppies look every bit as huge and dangerous as sharks.

His one barometer of threat – since the chronic anxiety which continually plagued him had robbed him of his usual intuitive abilities – had become Jim’s presence. Jim’s wry, good humored knack of putting things in perspective; in making what seemed insurmountable mountains into the very scalable molehills they really were.

At first, Blair had been afraid to let himself rely on Jim, emotionally or otherwise. He was chronically embarrassed that it was even necessary; he couldn’t even think back to the night he’d sobbed in Jim’s arms without cringing in mortification. But Jim had made it very clear that there was no way he would leave Blair high and dry. And despite a tiny spark of self-determination deep inside, Blair made no effort to dissuade him from taking charge. In fact, he’d reveled in it; in the chance to stop fighting, to let himself be drawn safely along in Jim’s wake.

Back on the night when he’d discovered that Naomi had died, and Blair had woken in the darkness, remembered grief stirring him out of a fitful sleep, he’d found that Jim had already packed up some of his things. Still half-reeling with shock and despair, Blair had barely registered it when he’d been ushered down to Jim’s truck and taken back to the loft. He’d not been back to his one-roomed apartment since.

Blair had gotten through the period immediately after that night in a daze. He vaguely registered being consulted about stuff over the next few days; things to do with Naomi, his apartment, his job. He guessed he’d even made some decisions. Finally, he’d found himself in a psychiatrist’s office, trying to put into words what he was feeling - which alternated between nothing at all, and a gut-wrenching sensation of terror. And it was then he’d realized exactly how much of a mess he was in.

Medication had followed, plus further consultations. And all the time, Blair was cocooned and cushioned, bolstered by Jim’s care.

He’d finally gotten up the presence of mind to tackle Jim about going above and beyond the call – difficult though that was. And it had been embarrassing when he’d lost it again, clinging on to Jim as though he was a life-preserver.

Jim, though, had been thoroughly sanguine about the whole thing. “I told you, Chief. You’re not alone. We’re in this together, okay?” He’d held Blair at arms length, looking at him earnestly. “Look at it like this. It’s like the times we’ve gotten hurt on the job – we take care of each other. This is no different – it’s just going to take a little longer, that’s all. The important thing is that you’re getting the treatment you need. And don’t think for a minute that I’m not aware of how much effort you’re making to deal with this.”

“I don’t feel like I’m making an effort,” Blair admitted. “I feel like I failed. Like I’m leaning on you too much.” Tears threatened once more, and Blair dashed them angrily away. “How can you put up with me in this state, Jim?”

Jim had pulled Blair into an embrace –and shamelessly, Blair had let him, wanting it far, far too much. “It’s simple,” Jim had murmured. “I’ve gotten my friend back, Chief. For a long time, I thought I’d lost you. For this,” Jim squeezed him tight, “I’m prepared to put up with anything.”

In the past, Jim might have qualified that by some disparaging comment, designed to defuse the seriousness – “Except your hair in the drain, Sandburg.” But not this time.

And at last, Blair got it.

Pulling back to look Jim in the eye, one major source of anxiety exorcised, he murmured simply, “Thank you.”

***

It would take time, Blair understood, just as Jim had said. Four weeks on from Naomi’s death, Blair had already resolved to forgive himself for feeling bad – which was, he recognized, a big step towards recovery.

Hell, he was entitled to feel bad. He knew that, statistically speaking, there were five major causes of stress in modern society. Looking back over the past year or so, he’d experienced at least four of them.

Bereavement – check. That one was obvious.

Change of job. Oh boy, check. Big, big, understatement, check.

Moving house – check. Going from the loft to that hovel he’d been renting had not been the most positive move he’d ever made.

Divorce? Well, he and Jim were not exactly an item; but their feelings for each other were truly profound. Their rift had been probably the single most unendurable thing Blair had ever experienced – apart from the death of his mother. Now they were reconciled, Blair would do anything to keep Jim in his life. So their relationship was a little unconventional – but Blair felt he could put a definite ‘check’ beside ‘divorce’, all the same.

Thank god he hadn’t fathered any children, he told himself wryly. Otherwise, he might have been heading for a full house.

Still a little fragile, but having turned an important corner nevertheless, Blair glanced around the field where Naomi’s memorial party was taking place. He smiled, knowing that this was what she would have wanted. Something unconventional and outdoors, full of people she loved and who loved her.

And Blair had loved her so very, very much.

Jim was watching him, Blair knew; standing sentry at the far side of the field like his own personal bodyguard. Warmed by his presence, despite his sadness, Blair grinned across at his friend in amusement, when an aromatic cloud of smoke assailed his nostrils. Jim, he knew, would probably be able to smell it from all the way over there.

In the next moment, Jim’s answering grin morphed into a smile of tender welcome, when Blair strode across to join him.


The End



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 12:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klgrem.livejournal.com
This was great, too. I love H/C, and you do it so very well. Thank you for this. :)

Date: 2007-08-01 07:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
You are very welcome! Thanks for your lovely comments ::hugs::

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