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Summary: Epilogue for Dead End on Blank Street

Author's Note: This was written as a gift fic for my friend [livejournal.com profile] fingers.

Blind Spot
By Fluterbev

September 2005

Jim could see for miles, when he chose to.

The view over Puget Sound was one of the reasons Jim had bought this place, back when his senses had suddenly lost their rainforest sharpness, and a pay check for stuff he couldn’t talk about had just been deposited in his bank account. Even then - when ships far out in the Pacific had been merely indistinct blobs on the horizon - he’d loved the sight of the ocean, and the fresh smell of the sea blowing in with the westerly wind.

Now, standing on the balcony of his third floor apartment, he could see so far and so clearly that fishing boats and oil tankers appeared to be practically right in front of him. He could hear the whirr of ship’s engines, smell the odors of engine oil and today’s catch floundering on the decks, and even pick up bits of conversation drifting across the water.

Sandburg called what he could do a ‘gift’, and Jim guessed there was something in that assessment. Standing here, looking out to sea, breathing in and distinguishing the scents of seaweed and saltwater with an acuity every bit as strong as his sight, he could believe it was true.

Sandburg’s vision, on the other hand, was faulty. Jim had never asked about it – well, you just didn’t, did you? None of his business. But the guy needed glasses for driving, for watching TV, and for close work too.

Jim didn’t really know the difference between long-sighted and short-sighted. One was difficulty with distance, the other with seeing things up close, he knew – but he tended to get the labels mixed up, never having suffered from either himself. Sandburg, he guessed, had to be one or the other or, perhaps, something in-between, since he seemed to need glasses for both distance and reading. Whatever it was, the guy had vision problems - unlike Jim, whose vision was so far beyond twenty/twenty it couldn’t be measured by regular optical instruments.

Why the hell, then, did Sandburg sometimes see things so much clearer than he did?

When Sandburg had first broached his suspicions to Jim about Veronica’s involvement in Alan’s faked death, Jim had shot him down in flames. After all, he knew Veronica, didn’t he? They were old friends. Okay, more than friends. They went back a long way. Sandburg, on the other hand, didn’t know her at all; he had, in fact, barely spoken two words to her since she’d reappeared in Jim’s life.

Jim had at first assumed Sandburg’s immediate coolness toward Veronica to be some weird, judgmental disapproval of the attraction Jim held for a married woman, which had blossomed into a relationship soon after she was apparently widowed. Because for a guy brought up in Naomi’s unconventional world, Sandburg could be remarkably prudish and old-fashioned at times about stuff like that.

Jim remembered how much of a surprise it had been, when his opinion of Blair as someone who would jump a table leg had been blown on its ass. It had been just after the Iceman case. Amber, having given up moonlighting as a prostitute, had more or less thrown herself at Sandburg. Here was this beautiful, intelligent, sexy girl, freely offering herself to a man who’d always seemed to go through women like Jim went through cars. Jim had been amused at the play-by-play, watching from the sidelines as his partner was pursued, waiting for Blair to launch into his patent mating cha cha in return. But, to Jim’s amazement, Sandburg hadn’t been able to get past Amber’s less-than-virginal past, and had blown her off on the strength of that without a moment’s hesitation.

Amber’s history wouldn’t have worried Jim, if he’d been in Blair’s position – the girl had a lot more going for her than a murky past, after all. But despite Blair’s protestations that words like ‘hooker’ had pejorative connotations, he was astonishingly squeamish when such issues were thrown in his face.

So Jim had assumed – mistakenly, it had turned out – that Sandburg had been going all moralistic on him again. Blair hadn’t liked Veronica from the get go, if his attitude was anything to go by, and it had really pissed Jim off; the guy didn’t know her like Jim did, and didn’t have a clue about what was going on behind the scenes. Not only that, it was none of Blair’s goddamned business what Jim did in his private life. So Jim had kept out of Sandburg’s way, spending more and more time with Veronica, and avoiding Sandburg like the plague – because when it came down to it, they were friends. And Jim didn’t want to have to say something to him that they’d both regret.

There was a lot more to the situation than Blair knew, in any case. It took two to tango, and if Veronica hadn’t presented herself as desperately unhappy in her marriage, Jim would never have rocked the boat or moved in to console her afterwards. Likewise, when he’d slept with Emily back in the day, he’d only done so after learning that she wanted out of her relationship with Jack Pendergrast. Hell, it was just comfort, right? Two unhappy people desperately needing validation and the reassurance of touch. If either woman – Emily or Veronica - had been content and settled in their respective relationships, Jim would never have moved in on either of them.

When Blair had first raised his suspicions with Jim about Veronica’s involvement in Alan’s ‘death’, Jim had seen red straight away. Now it had gone beyond some spurious moral judgment on Sandburg’s part - the guy was acting like a jealous wife, for Christ’s sake, making cracks like, “Long time, no see,” before accusing Veronica of murder! What, was he so pissed off at Jim for spending more time with a woman than with him, that he had to manufacture this crap? Or did he just hate to see Jim happy, when his own love life was such a train wreck? Sandburg had been lucky Jim had just walked away, instead of decking him there and then.

But the truth had come out not long after that, and Jim had been forced to take off his rose colored spectacles and see the situation for what it was. And in the space of days, his dreams of a future with Veronica had died, just like both she and Alan had died in his arms.

Blair with his glasses, and Jim with his sentinel sight. Which one of them had the clearer vision?

Because, when all was said and done, Sandburg had seen Veronica for what she was right from the get go. He’d been absolutely on the ball about her involvement. But Jim had seen only what he wanted to see – mistaking calculation for affection, avarice for caring, selfishness for love.

Jim was a sentinel. He could see for miles. But he had a blind spot, it seemed, which was so massive, so all-encompassing, that he couldn’t see what was right in front of him, no matter how obvious it was to others.

Especially to Blair.

Far out at sea, which was awash now with the shimmering reds and oranges of sunset, a fishing net containing the last catch of the day was being hauled in. Further out, an oil tanker steamed steadily south, the sailors on board calling to each other in Spanish. A little closer, three sailboats billowed their colors in the wind, cutting divergent, peaceful paths through the water, the bright yellow lifejackets of the occupants reflecting the vibrant hues of the dying sun.

Jim took a huge breath, filling his lungs with the cleansing, myriad smells of the water, the screech of the gulls overhead harsh in his ears. But the ache in his chest - which had been with him for days now, ever since he’d discovered how blind he had been - remained, despite the calming beauty of the sunset.

Behind Jim, the balcony doors opened, and he reined in his senses a little, tracking Sandburg’s approach without looking away from the vista in front of him, as the other man came to stand beside him at the railing.

After a moment, Blair spoke softly. “Hey.”

It didn’t seem to require an answer, so Jim kept quiet. The fishing boat had changed course, heading back toward the harbor. The oil tanker had almost disappeared over the darkening horizon.

Jim could see for miles.

He felt a hand touch the small of his back, and rest there. It was warm and, at the contrast, Jim realized suddenly how cold he was. He held his breath, anticipating a lecture, but Sandburg didn’t speak again, although his hand remained. It felt like comfort, like validation. The reassurance of touch.

Lights twinkled now, far in the distance. Another fishing boat, heading to a different destination.

The wind had gotten up a little, and the temperature was dropping swiftly now that the sun had almost disappeared. Blair’s hand on Jim’s back was feverishly hot in the cold air, and Jim started to shiver. The warmth spread out from Blair’s hand, and the ache inside Jim swelled, lodging in his throat.

The lights in the distance blurred suddenly, merging wetly into streamers of shimmering brightness, as Jim breathed in gasps.

Sandburg moved, tugging Jim around. Blindly, Jim reached out, Blair’s arms encircling him in turn, the heat of his partner’s body against his burning away the cold. And finally the ache broke free; the agony of betrayal, humiliation and grief washing away in the sea breeze.

Jim could see for miles, and Blair’s vision was faulty. But when it came down to it, there was no one Jim would rather have watching his back.

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: 2007-08-03 06:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klgrem.livejournal.com
What a beautiful story. Lovely sentiment. Well done. :)

Date: 2007-08-04 08:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
I do like me a vulnerable Jim ;-). Glad you enjoyed it! :-)


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