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Dancing Before the Lightening

by Juliet Benson

Summary: Missing Scenes from S2P2
Disclaimer: I don't own them, I just fix what messes the people who do make. ;-)
Spoilers: S2, S2P2
Series: Yes, second in the "Close to Eden" series
Rating: PG

*Though it's next to nothing,
Look how rich we are.
Funny now how Eden
Doesn't seem so far.
Come sit beside me in the dying light.
What storms the morning brings
We'll weather all right.
You hand in my hand and as we sit here
Huddled in the gloom,
Paradise seems strangly close
Close to home*

It was raining in Cascade. Blair was out on the balcony, arms spread, head tilted. Great, now every time he wanted to feel close to Jim, he just got wet. That sucked. It was two days since they’d returned to the loft. It wasn’t "home" again, yet. Blair had all the hope in the world that it soon would be, though. Nothing significant had passed between the two of them since that scene in the airport. They hadn’t even sat next to each other on the plane. Blair sighed and lowered his arms, but kept his head inclined upwards, letting the rain run down his face like tears. He winced at that, thinking it sounded too much like a bad novel.

His emotions were raw, running each way in the extreme. One moment he was angry at Jim with a fury he’d never felt before, the next so depressed he found he’d memorized the way each of the knives in the kitchen drawer lay.

In one burst, he’d only remember the hurtful things Jim had said to him, then he’d blink and see all the times he’d screwed up racing before his eyes.

And Jim still wasn’t talking. "Pass the butter" was the most emotional thing Sandburg got out of him these days. He shivered, and stuck his hands under his arms, finally lowering his face. Water dripped off his nose and chin.

Moving out had fluttered through his mind once, but he’d brushed it away before it actually took shape. He didn’t want to leave Jim. He didn’t want to be more alone than he already was. He *wanted* to get past this, somehow.

He had thought once Alex was out of the way, everything would be better.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Blair *knew* Jim cared for him.

Every now and then, while he was grading papers, watching TV, and once even as he was brushing his hair, he’d look up and see Jim staring at him, desperation, fear and tenderness plain on his face. But then those emotions were gone, along with Jim. He’d often make some lame excuse and move to a different room, or sometimes actually leave the loft for an errand. Jim was just afraid. Blair began to rock himself, staring blankly out over the city.

Where did they go from here? Neither one could live like this much longer; something had to give, and soon.  Blair’s teeth were chattering at this point, so he returned into the loft, heading for his room. He dried himself off and dropped the damp towel in the laundry basket, wrapping a new one around his shoulders. Grabbing a bunch of paper towels, he wiped up the wet trail he had left. Soon he was snuggling in a large comforter in front of the fire, sipping herbal tea, in his sweats. After a while, a pleasantly flushed feeling came to his face.

‘I wonder how long this will last,’ he thought, burning his tongue. He swallowed the too hot liquid, feeling it all the way to his stomach. ‘This arrangement, me and him. Best friends.’ *Nothing lasts forever.* Blair hated clichés. Sooner or later, one of them was probably going to get married.

And then he would no longer be Jim’s best friend, and Jim would no longer be his. The spouse would take over that role. Unless that didn’t apply to them. Blair was discovering a lot of things didn’t appear to apply to them. Death didn’t seem to.

"There are always exceptions to the rules," Blair mumbled into his cup, letting the steam touch his face. Maybe that explained both his and Jim’s tragic love lives. Maybe they *could* stay like this. Blair suddenly got a mental picture of them at 80, scouting the bars for girls. He began to laugh. He laughed into his tea, watching tears fall down and splatter into it. Small dots of hot tea splashed up, briefly burning when they made contact with his face. Funny how, after all that had happened, the only time he cried was when he was laughing. But he wasn’t laughing now. And tears

were still running, as was his nose. Too comfortable to get up and get a Kleenex, Blair wiped his nose on his sleeve, something he hadn’t done since he was a child. He sniffled, tasting his tea. Tears didn’t make any difference. Blair stared into the fire, his thoughts cycling around aimlessly. He remembered back to the church. The first time since he’d come

back to life that he’d initiated a talk. Of course, it had been rejected.

He remembered what he’d said finally: "*What are you doing messing with me?*"

So Jim went and messed with Alex. That made him want to laugh again, but he was scared to. He felt too close to hysteria. So he smiled and closed his eyes, instead. In the next breath, his mouth was pulled downwards and his eyelashes trembling with tears fringing them. He was never going to make jokes about women and mood swings ever again, as long as he lived.

"I’m a mess," he muttered, dragging an arm across his eyes. Blair leaned his head back against the sofa. He opened his eyes, squinting. Everything was bleary. It was darker and his tea was gone. He looked at the clock, seeing a fuzzy 7:47 staring back at him.

"Jim?" he called in a nap-roughened voice, shakily getting to his feet.

There was a crick in his neck. He winced and rotated his neck and shoulders, hearing the anticipated "crack". His throat was sore and his eyes felt like rubber cement was in them. ‘Note to self: never cry before going to sleep again’ he thought blearily, keeping the blanket wrapped around him like a toga. Jim was out on the balcony, his arms crossed protectively around his chest. The image reminded him of earlier, when he and Megan came into a barren loft. A shudder ran down his spine. He fervently hoped these extremely distasteful attacks of deja vu would soon fade.

"Hey man," he greeted with a tired smile. "Cold?" He pulled off the comforter and offered it to Jim. Jim glanced at him and shook his head, his gaze traveling out once again to the city. Blair stood next to him, but nowhere near his personal space. ‘Who says old anthropologists can’t learn new tricks?’ he thought with a wry grin. Jim noticed.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing, just thinking," Blair replied, snuggling back down into the comforter. There was silence between them for a long time. Too long. "Jim, will we ever get past this?" Blair finally asked in a small voice.

Jim’s jaw flinched. He didn’t respond and he didn’t turn away. Now that the chance presented itself to him, Blair didn’t know what to say. There was a moment of silence. Jim suddenly turned, startling Blair. And Jim smiled, a gentle, tender smile. One hand reached out a slid along the side of Blair’s face, fingers sinking into his hair.

"Sorry," Jim said. And it was enough to let Blair know that they *would* get past this. And anything else that happened.

The End

to be continued in the next installment....

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