fluterbev_fic: (Default)
[personal profile] fluterbev_fic
Summary: Blair's out of options, and only has one place to go.

Author's Note: Written for the 'Store' challenge at [livejournal.com profile] sentinel_thurs. This story follows on from Fathers' Day, Routine, and Late at Night on the Open Road, Speeding Like a Man on the Run.

Rating: PG

Warning: Like the earlier stories in this series this is seriously, SERIOUSLY angsty, so please read with caution.





Nothing Left in Store

By Fluterbev

September 2010


He’d booked the trip at extremely short notice, taking whatever last-minute seats were available that would eventually get him to his destination, however circuitous the route. Consequently, after enduring three flights in the span of nearly fifty tedious hours (many of which were spent sitting around in airports waiting), Blair finally landed in Cascade. A little over an hour after that, unwashed, unshaved and so sleep-deprived he hardly knew which way was up, he finally parked his rental car outside 852 Prospect.

Blair’s palms were clammy as the engine ticked into silence, his breath held as though he was on the brink of a precipice. He knew that he only had to turn his head to see the building where he used to live; the building which housed the apartment that Naomi and Jim had made their marital home for the past five years. At this apex of his impulsive return, however, whatever store of determination had helped propel him back along this path had now deserted him so that, right at this moment, Blair truly had no idea what the hell he was doing here.

As he sat there lost in indecision, Blair registered the moment that a black sedan slid into the vacant lot beside him. The familiar driver who got out and clamped an unlit cigar between his lips compounded his surreal sense of having travelled not only back across the ocean, but also back in time.

Unthinkingly – because if he’d taken even one second to consider it he wouldn’t have done so – Blair opened the car door and got out, intercepting the man before he could cross the street. “Hey, Simon! Simon, wait up!”

Simon Banks turned and fixed Blair with a hostile stare, which halted him in his tracks. “Sandburg,” Simon acknowledged, entirely without warmth. “What a surprise.”

So, Simon wasn’t pleased to see him. Which, Blair supposed, was only fair since, when he’d left, he’d cut Simon off without a word. It had been, he was forced to acknowledge, a shitty thing to do to a friend who’d gone above and beyond to try to help him salvage something positive from the mess he’d created.

“How’ve you been?” Blair tried lamely, attempting to remember how to make small talk, and hoping that he could breach Simon’s frostiness with the judicious application of bland social niceties. When he got no answer, Blair nodded in the direction of Jim’s apartment block. “I, uh, I guess you’re heading up to see Jim, huh?”

“Jim isn’t there,” Simon said bluntly.

“Oh, okay.” Jetlagged and stressed, not to mention thrown off balance by Simon’s obvious hostility, Blair didn’t know what else to say. He wiped a hand over his face, feeling the stiffness of bristles, the rankness of sweat. He was suddenly aware of how profoundly exhausted he was, and he had no idea what to do next.

Maybe Simon picked up somehow on the fact that he was struggling, because his manner thawed slightly. “Look,” he said, “let’s go inside. I think you and I should talk.”

“Inside?” Blair blinked stupidly. “Inside, you mean there?” he indicated Jim’s building. “I thought you said Jim wasn’t home.”

“He isn’t.” Simon sighed impatiently. “Look, just come with me, Sandburg. I’ll explain when we get up to the loft.” And without waiting for an answer Simon strode across the road, forcing Blair, after an indecisive few moments, to scurry quickly after him.

It was only once Blair was inside and following up the stairs in Simon’s wake that he realized what he was doing and where he was heading. He called ahead up the steps, trying to get Simon’s attention. “Hey, man, I’m not sure this is a good idea.” He took the next few steps at a jog, trying to catch up with the other man’s long-legged stride. “I mean, I don’t think me going into the loft while Jim is out, before I’ve even told him I’m here, is something he’ll approve of, you know? We didn’t exactly part on the best of terms.”

But Simon didn’t acknowledge Blair’s protest at all, and he didn’t stop. He reached the top of the stairs and headed straight to the door of apartment 852 and unlocked it. Giving Blair one single, unfathomable glance he went inside, leaving the door open behind him.

Left alone outside in the hall Blair swallowed nervously, his heart beating triple time. Then, with no alternative other than turning tail and running – and wasn’t he here because he was utterly sick of running? - he unwillingly followed Simon inside.

Naomi’s influence on the decor was obvious immediately. The incontrovertible evidence of their marriage warped Blair’s intimate memory of the loft, transforming it into something half-familiar, half-unfamiliar; both homely and unwelcoming at the same time. It was both exactly how he remembered it, and exactly how he’d dreaded it would be.

Tearing his gaze with an effort from the feng shui aligned furniture and batik wall hangings, Blair located Simon by the sound of movement up in the loft bedroom – drawers opening and closing, the rustle of cloth - before he came back down the stairs, a neat pile of folded clothes in his hands which he placed on the kitchen table. “What’s going on, man?” Blair asked, unable to fathom what Simon was doing in Jim’s personal space.

Simon had disappeared now into the bathroom. After a couple of minutes he emerged, a wash bag in his hand, and finally answered Blair’s question. “I’m packing up some clothes and other things for Jim.”

“Why?” Blair asked, a sense of something terribly wrong beginning to take root inside him. “Is Jim okay?”

Simon placed the bag down alongside the clothes, then turned to face Blair. “Considering he almost put a bullet in his head six days ago, he’s doing just fine.”

Simon’s dispassionate words shocked through Blair. “That’s a figure of speech, right?” he said, feeling strangely disassociated. “I mean, he didn’t really try to do that, did he?”

He had barely finished speaking when Simon strode over, and came to a stop intimidatingly close. The big man towered over him, his expression furious. “Six days ago, Jim sank a whole bottle of Jim Beam, and sat here all night with a loaded gun in his hand. And I thank God that by the time the sun came up he had the sense to reach out and call on me for help, before he pulled the goddamn trigger. Because you know what, Sandburg? He’s got one good friend in this world, and it sure as hell ain’t you.”

Blair reeled in shock. The thought of Jim that desperate, that broken, was something that just did not compute. “But he wouldn’t have done it, right?” he objected. “Man, that’s... I mean, I know he and my… I know Jim and Naomi broke up, but...” he was babbling now, uttering two names in the same sentence that he had never, in the whole of the last five years, voiced out loud to anyone else but Jim. Stopping the flow of words with an effort, he pleaded, “He’s okay now though, right?”

Simon folded his arms, staring him down. “No thanks to you,”

“What the hell do you mean by that?” Blair was confused and hurt by Simon’s obvious anger towards him, feeling increasingly like this whole scenario was some kind of bizarre nightmare. Yet deep inside he knew, of course. He knew exactly what might have pushed Jim over the edge; had gotten satisfaction out of being the one to do the pushing, in fact, exactly six nights ago on the phone. Yet for propriety’s sake, for the sake of keeping their dirty little secret, he now had to maintain an attitude of plausible denial. “You’re blaming me? How is this my fault? I haven’t seen Jim for five years,” he shifted into a more reasonable tone of voice, long-accustomed to faking it despite the guilt and horror which clawed at his gut. “Come on, Simon. The man has just broken up with his wife! It stands to reason he’s feeling a little down.”

“You’re some piece of work, you know that?” Simon shook his head, an unpleasant smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. Then Blair reflexively stepped back as a finger was jabbed hard in his chest. “You called him that night to vent your goddamn spleen, and I know it wasn’t the first time. But this time you were kicking him when he was truly down, and you made him believe he had nothing left to live for.” Simon came closer, his voice no less menacing for all that it took on a conspiratorial tone. “He told me everything, Blair. About how he was in love with you, but that you ended your relationship. About how, when he eventually got over your break-up and fell in love with Naomi, you turned your back on the both of them. And about how, in all the years since, you’ve never stopped harassing him.”

Simon’s interpretation was so far from the truth that Blair actually almost laughed, but instead misery choked him – because if Simon was saying these things, then it could only be because Jim had framed it in that way. “You have gotten it so wrong, man. I broke up with Jim because of what happened with Alex, but I never stopped loving him. And when he and Naomi got together, I did the best thing I could for all of us – I got out of their hair.” His voice broke a little, the sadness and loneliness he’d lived with for so long rushing through him like a wave. “And if you had any idea what it’s been like for me these past few years, cutting myself off like that from everyone I ever loved… god, Simon, I swear…”

Simon cut him off. “Oh for Christ’s sake, Blair, give it a rest. Do I look like Dr. Phil to you? You ended it, he found someone else, the end. Leave the man alone, and get over it!”

“Hey, forget Dr. Phil, I always thought this whole thing was more appropriate for Jerry Springer,” Blair retorted belligerently, his mood morphing in a millisecond to antagonism in the face of Simon’s callousness. “I mean, can’t you picture it, man? ‘My gay cop, ex-lover married my mom’. Pretty neat story, huh?”

“You’re sick,” Simon said with disgust. He turned away. “I can’t even look at you anymore.”

“I never figured you for a homophobe, Simon,” Blair said, hurt and indignance at Simon’s dismissive attitude making him brutal. “And hey, if you think I’m sick, what about your good pal Jim, huh? He’s the one who fucked both me and my mom.”

After a few moments of stunned silence, during which Blair was tempted to walk out of the door without another word, Simon turned back to look at him. To Blair’s astonishment Simon was regarding him not with revulsion at his crudity, but with a dreadful kind of pity. “Jim told me you were like this now,” Simon told him, his voice disconcertingly gentle. “Bitter and damaged, and that you’d go on the attack before you’d let anyone get close to you.”

“Yeah, well,” Blair pointed out resentfully. “Forgive me for stating the obvious here, but you started it, man. And you already made it crystal clear that you don’t care about my problems, so quit it with the fake concern, all right?”

Simon sighed hugely. “What happened, Blair?” he pleaded. “You and I used to be friends. You and Jim used to be more than friends, and you and Naomi had the sort of mother-son bond most people only dream of. Where did it go so wrong?”

Blair held out his hands in surrender. “Why are you asking me, if Jim already told you his version? You already believe I’m the bad guy, right?”

“I’m asking you,” Simon said, “because I have no idea what else to do. Because I need to understand your side of the story if I’m going to help my friend – to help both my friends – put this thing right.”

Blair could hear the words, and detect the allusion to continued friendship, but he couldn’t feel the truth of it – he was no longer able to feel anything at all, apart from a sense of exhausted futility. “It’s too late,” he responded, the desperate store of energy which had sustained him during his journey now completely used up. “There’s no cure for this. Not for any of it. There never was.” He blinked rapidly, his vision blurred. “I shouldn’t have come here,” he said. He turned and started toward the door, his steps leaden because he had absolutely nowhere to go.

“So you’re gonna run again, huh?” The disgust was back in Simon’s voice as Blair moved away. “Why am I not surprised? You drive Jim almost to suicide, and you don’t even have the balls to stick around and see this thing through.”

That outright accusation – that Blair was the explicit reason Jim had almost taken his own life – wounded him far more than anything else Simon had said during this brief, excruciating encounter. Blair whirled around, his hands clenched into fists, hurting so much he thought he might die. “What the hell do you want from me?” he demanded, his voice breaking, guilt and grief overflowing, leaving no room even for shame.

“I’ll tell you what I want,” Simon said; calm, cool, efficient, and ruthlessly cutting a clear path through Blair’s anguish. “Right now, I want you to pull yourself together. Then I want you to check into a hotel, get cleaned up, eat, and get some sleep. I’ll come over tomorrow to where you’re staying, and you and I are going to talk. Or rather, you’re going to talk, and I’m going to listen.”

The only part of that plan that Blair had no problem with was the part where he got to hide away in the oblivion of sleep, but he was too dispirited, too dog-tired and too out of options to protest right now about anything else. So, instead, he spent a few minutes consciously attempting to put the first part of Simon’s directive in action, hoping that, once he’d gotten himself under control, dredging up the strength to deal with the rest of it would somehow follow.

But before he got his emotions even halfway in check, it became clear to both of them that any further effort was beyond him. He didn’t resist, therefore, when Simon took him firmly by the arm, and steered him out of the loft.


TBC...




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: 2010-09-16 10:07 pm (UTC)
mab_browne: Jim Ellison from The Sentinel, looking gorgeous. (TS Jim)
From: [personal profile] mab_browne
Evil woman. You're determined to make them all utterly miserable, aren't you? :-)

Date: 2010-09-16 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sg1danny
You are absolutely evil, evil I tell you. Now...where's the rest?

Date: 2010-09-21 12:01 am (UTC)
knitty_woman: Drawing shows demure19th century woman knitting (Default)
From: [personal profile] knitty_woman
You know, this isn't actually as sad as the other parts, because at least there is some hope, now that Naomi is gone. But it's still such a bad place for them. Boo hiss. Lovely as always, however.

Date: 2010-09-17 12:59 am (UTC)
laurie_ky: Robert Frost poem (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurie_ky
Wow, Simon. That's really manipulative, to try and blame Blair for Jim's feelings and actions. Jim is in charge of those, and Blair didn't make Jim suicidal. Poor Jim. Poor Blair. They are such a mess, and unhappily, reading your story sounds way too much like my job.

S'good, Bev. In a totally fucked up, messy and destructive way.

Now will Simon take him home with him, or will he shove him into a motel room?

There ain't going to be any quick fix on any of this. And I did read something or other, kind of research related, that talked about the areas of the brain that handle different aspects of love. So that in-love feeling is stored in a different place than, say brotherly love, or steady love of someone. The article was making a point as to why you can be in-love with someone(new fling) and still love the wife. Or husband. Might explain how Jim was able to still love Blair, after they stopped sleeping together, and also fall in love with Naomi.

Jim certainly doesn't sound like the the villian in this drama to himself, and that rings so true.

Ah, well back to work for me, although in a bit of petty rebellion I've taken to doing it (on my little netbook work computer) while I'm watching TV. My head is right back in the pit of despair and doom, after this, and I hope you know this is a compliment to your writing.

Laurie

Date: 2010-09-17 08:13 am (UTC)
snailbones: (Default)
From: [personal profile] snailbones


Oh lush - you do the twisting of the knife so beautifully, which probably makes me a sick puppy because I love it so much *g* Nice to see another perspective on the whole sorry mess too - nothing is ever black and white.

Thanks for the angst fix - and have a great weekend!

Date: 2010-09-20 05:36 pm (UTC)
fluterbev: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fluterbev
Ha, it is always a pleasure to share with a fellow angst-monkey like yourself!

Had a brilliant weekend, thank you, despite torrential rain and a leaky tent. The music generally was fab, and my new music partner is awesome which made our concert go especially well, so despite being utterly knackered I am still on a major high :-)

Date: 2010-09-20 05:43 pm (UTC)
snailbones: (Default)
From: [personal profile] snailbones


Oh dear lord - torrential rain and leaking tents remind me of my folky days... does excessive fiddle-playing make it rain, d'you think? *g*

Glad you had such an excellent time - I hope your Plan A - hang out in the bar worked okay - and whoohoo! for enjoying your new partner so much. ♥

Date: 2010-09-18 05:01 pm (UTC)
pclu2004: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pclu2004
You did NOT stop this here! There's more, more, more and soon, right?

Date: 2010-09-20 05:37 pm (UTC)
fluterbev: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fluterbev
There will be more, but it may take a week or three. Glad you read and enjoyed it!

Date: 2010-09-19 04:52 pm (UTC)
t_verano: (Default)
From: [personal profile] t_verano
Oh, ow. I really do love this series. And I'm pretty much thinking they've all been jerks in their separate ways -- not meaning to, but hurting so much they haven't stopped themselves from doing it, either. I love it when everybody's at least partly to blame for a big, horrible, hurty mess. You fuck people up so beautifully ::beams at you, albeit whimperingly:: (But much as I love the hurt and the mess, I'm also glad that Simon now seems willing to listen to Blair's side of things.)

Date: 2010-09-20 05:15 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Seriously good fic!!! I thought Fathers day was one of the best fics I have ever read and it just keeps getting better, I am so pleased you have turned it into a series. I actually started reading Sentinel fiction before I ever watched the series and it is writers like you that draw in new fans, thank you! I eagerly await an update
PJ
stenvial tome

Date: 2010-09-21 03:23 am (UTC)
winter_elf: Sherlock Holmes (BBC) with orange soft focus (Default)
From: [personal profile] winter_elf
OW!!!!! *whimper* Wow, twist that knife. And you ended THERE! ARGH!!

Poor Jim - glad he had Simon to beat some sense into his head. I'm interested in Simon's view of things - because, sorry, Blair's right - it's Jerry Springer material!

Date: 2010-09-21 03:33 am (UTC)
magician113: (the rig)
From: [personal profile] magician113
Woman! What are we to do with you? You've stopped throwing Blair (or Jim) into Iron Maidens but now they are being broken on the emotional rack! How you love your torture! The saddest part for me is all that wasted time. But you know that is so Real Life -- how often do we hold on to our hurts or ignore the possibilities that good can happen, while time slips away. ::sighs:;

Well, I'm holding out for any and all of these guys to stop(!) in the name of love. But then I'm a cock-eyed optimist! Looking forward to where this long and winding road goes next. (did I fit in enough song lyrics?)

Another good, if painful, chapter.

Date: 2010-10-07 12:08 am (UTC)
magician113: (blair geek)
From: [personal profile] magician113
LOL, actually it isn't SO unrelenting, just really sad and certainly not anywhere near what I can't bear and you know I'm a total wuss. I actually dipped my toe in and read Survivor Guilt and you were quite right -- it was well within my ability to handle and, of course, so well-written.

(and you know it isn't *your* angst that gets me, just angst and h/c in general that i don't handle so well.) Have a mahvelous weekend -- can't wait for the pix.

Date: 2010-09-22 01:00 pm (UTC)
mrs_tilford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] mrs_tilford
Still something missing, yeah? Something that Simon knows about the Jim/Naomi situation that Blair doesn't? Something that happened when Blair left Cascade...something wrong with Jim that Jim wouldn't tell to draw Blair back to him... Hmmm?...

Enjoying your writing, as always, and looking forward to more of it.

Date: 2010-09-22 11:54 pm (UTC)
franscats: (Default)
From: [personal profile] franscats
Wow! I hope you write more soon.

Date: 2010-09-27 02:59 am (UTC)
whyskeyeyes: (jim)
From: [personal profile] whyskeyeyes
Lovely in an evil and hurting kind of way. But I so can't believe you left us here. More soon please... we beg prettily. Wow it is so going to take a lot of work to fix this some how.

Date: 2010-09-29 05:43 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] kyaerie
(a) I love the angst, and eagerly await the resolution. What was Jim thinking? And how could he miss Blair more even now, if he was still in love with Naomi. I don't get what happened that had him inviting her over, then getting mad at Blair and throwing him out over the dissertation thing, while glossing over her role in it. Though I guess maybe somethings were resolved between the sheets for Jim and Naomi on that front.

(b) I imagined a missing scene after this snippet, but I didn't want to jostle or cold shower your imagination, so this is just a note, saying I have a snipped on my computer, if you're interested once this arc is over.

- Ky.

Date: 2010-10-15 05:31 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] kyaerie
Hi. sorry for the late response. was out of town and then sick. :(

The snippet is miniscule, honestly. Happy to send it along, whenever you're ready for it. Would hate to influence you in anyway with where you're taking this.

P.S: Should also let you know that I have been checking your fic list page (though not my fic list email account, or the comments page) for updates on this series.

You returned as to full angst, didn't you?

Date: 2010-10-16 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
After the little bit of optimism in the last story, you got back to total angst, though I have to say I'd be disappointed any other way - perfect angst less ending just won't fit here.

I wonder if it's the way Jim told him the events or Simon's own views of them - with the help of Blair's leaving - that caused Simon to make Blair the 'bad guy' here? He seem to blame Blair both for his own running away and changed behavior and for Jim own version of running away (his almost suicide) and depression, while seeing Jim as the 'victim'.

I'm a little suprise by Jim's actions, he seem to have accepted Blair's anger and lack of forgiveness long time ago, at least he still have enough will to live to stop.
There are still many missing facts about what happened - like Jim and Blair's original breakup and what happened between them afterwords, hope we'll find out more, if you are continuing the series.

Date: 2011-05-21 06:33 pm (UTC)
bamani: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bamani
This is so incredibly painful. Will there ever be a resolution?

I love everything you write ^_^.

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