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Summary: Things went horribly wrong after TSbyBS.

Author's Note: Written for the Fathers' Day challenge at [livejournal.com profile] sentinel_thurs. Finally posted here in an attempt to keep all my stuff together.

Rating: PG

Warning: Seriously, seriously angsty, so please read with caution.

Fathers' Day

By Fluterbev

September 2009

It felt like he’d been living like this forever. Lost in an eternal limbo, going nowhere despite keeping constantly on the move, striving hard to exist only in the moment.

If there was a purgatory, Blair had to admit, late at night in the dark and the quiet when he could no longer escape the turmoil of his thoughts and memories, then this was definitely it.

He had no intention of turning back, though, despite the fact that his life utterly lacked direction. Nothing to turn back to, in any case. Bridges burned, ties cut, love’s labor lost.

Up the creek without a paddle.

Okay, that last part wasn’t strictly true. He had plenty of paddles, not the least of which was his resourcefulness, which even he had to admit he possessed in spades. Years of trying his hand at any opportunity he was presented with and giving it his best shot had made him into a more employable individual than most. The fact that he’d once been the fastest torch in his crew was the only thing that truly mattered in his current line of work - admissions of academic fraud were completely irrelevant to the guys who did the hiring and firing.

So he strove and he sweated and he pushed himself mercilessly, and he continued to put bread on the table as he aimlessly drifted from city to city and state to state, with no destination in mind other than where the wind blew and work could be found. He kept breathing, kept going, kept his body alive. And if his soul sometimes clamored at him for a bit of nurturing, well tough shit. He’d had his chance once and he’d blown it, big time, and had ultimately lost everything he’d ever truly cared about.

It’s not that he couldn’t have found different work, more rooted in the cerebral than the physical, if he’d wanted to. He was the king of bullshit, the master of obfuscation. When the hard questions came about his lack of references or dubious past, he could have talked his way round it if he’d wanted to. A bit of effort, a bit of creative spiel, and he’d be in, no problem.

But whenever he contemplated doing so his heart would pound like he’d run a marathon. Explanations would mean going there in words, going to that place he tried so hard to avoid even in his thoughts. Twisting the catalyst which had given rise to the worst experience of his life into a positive even he did not feel, and could not possibly convey without lying through his teeth.

He’d told enough lies. He wasn’t about to tell another one now.

So instead he chose the easier path, the toiling of his body in twelve-hour, unforgiving shifts far less daunting than the prospect of putting a positive spin on his worst nightmare. And over time his soft, scholar’s hands became rough and callused with toil, and what little spare body fat he’d once sported turned to hard, corded muscle.

And somehow, he kept breathing.

But oh, it was a lonely road. It wasn’t as if Blair was a stranger to a transient existence, or interaction without true depth. If he was honest, he had to admit that he’d lived almost his entire life hiding who he truly was behind a facade, masking his vulnerabilities behind a confident, jovial mask. But as he watched the camaraderie of his fellow workers from the sidelines, their rough, masculine affinity for their fellows expressed through ribald jokes and pounding backslaps, he’d never felt more truly on the outside than he did now. Their language was not his language; their talk of wives and girlfriends and children, articulated through battered photos plucked creased and worn from grimy pockets and passed around proudly, discourse he could never reciprocate.

He had only one photo in his possession - his mother and his stepfather, taken on the day they got married. But he could never even bring himself to look at it, let alone share it with his workmates.

“See this?” one of his co-workers - Rodrigo - was saying now, holding up a piece of brightly-colored paper as Blair’s crew took a break, devouring flasks of strong coffee and the lunches their significant others (those who had them) had lovingly packed for them. “My little girl made this for me at the weekend. My little Pedra. It was for fathers' day. She’s three years old.”

Blair ate his own lunch – packed by himself, without care or ceremony – and felt a pang of unexpected agony deep in his gut as some of the others – fathers themselves, at least one of them a grandfather – expressed approval as they studied the hand-made card, before launching into their own stories of the previous day’s festivities. “My wife, she cooked dinner,” one told them. “All my children came. My eldest, Eva, she gave us some news. She's expecting her third child!”

It was strange, this deep pain he felt, Blair mused as he watched the enthusiastic congratulations that followed. He’d never known his own father, had never really registered that fathers' day even existed before. He’d never known what it was like to celebrate it; had never known a father’s pride in his child, like these men he worked with. Never would, unless he someday became a father himself.

He couldn’t imagine that ever happening.

The events of that brief interlude, during the long, arduous day which followed, stayed with him like a stone in his belly, weighing him down, so that his sense of outsiderness and aloneness had become acute by the time he walked in the door of his small, stark room with its peeling wallpaper and faded furniture. The noise of the other inhabitants of the building easily penetrated through the thin walls, driving home his isolation still further. A woman shouting, a young baby crying, a man laughing, T.V channels blasting out the evening news and soap operas in Spanish.

It was maybe that which made him do it; which made him make the call. The need to re-establish his own connection with humanity; to hear the voice of someone he loved, no matter what lay between them.

The phone was answered after two rings. “Ellison.”

Blair couldn’t speak, his hand white-knuckled on the phone.

But it seemed no introductions were necessary. “Chief,” Jim breathed. “Where are you?”

The tenderness in Jim’s voice was too much. “I... I can’t...” Blair gasped brokenly. “I’m sorry.”

“Blair,” Jim urged softly. “Come home. Please.”

Blair swallowed, the lump in his throat precluding speech. Jim’s voice was so perfectly kind, so beloved and so desperately longed for, he almost said yes.


Then another voice intruded. “Who is it sweetie?” he heard his mom say in the background.

There was a pause. Then Jim answered, “It’s nothing, Naomi. Go back to bed, I’ll join you soon.”

Another pause ensued, during which Blair couldn’t have spoken if his life depended on it. Then Jim murmured, “Come home, Blair. I love you. I miss you. We both do.”

Blair closed his eyes against excruciating, familiar agony, before decisively terminating the call.

Ruthlessly packing his emotions back where they belonged, dry-eyed now and composed, he looked at the phone he held in his hand, before setting it down.

“Happy fathers' day, Jim,” he whispered.

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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