"Hey Hairboy," Brown grinned at him, swatting him playfully
on the shoulder.
"Jims in the break room."
Henri," Blair returned the smile wearily. Moving over to Jims desk,
he sat down in the chair and gently ran his fingers along the edge. Swallowing
hard, he felt the butterflies in his stomach increase, as well as the lump in
his throat. Terrific. It was doubtful hed manage to get through his goodbye
without breaking down. Plus, he wasnt even totally sure what he was going
to say. Oh yeah, hed be real convincing.
his head shot up at the sound of Jims voice. He was striding toward Sandburg.
"Is something wrong?" He asked, apparently noticing the accelerated
heartbeat. Well, *everything* was wrong, but Blair knew that wasnt what
Jim was asking.
"I suppose you could say that. Is there
someplace we can talk? Uh, in private?" Blair noticed in a detached sort
of way that he was shaking, but his main focus was on what he was going to say
and actually getting the words out of his mouth. Jims jaw clenched in concern,
but he simply nodded and gestured toward Simons office. Simon was still
in the hospital, but was due out any time. Megan had already been released and
was at her apartment, resting.
Jim shut the door behind them
and turned to face Sandburg, who was nervously perched on Simons desk.
up, Sandburg?" Jim asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
he felt his heart speed up even faster and briefly worried about the danger in
" Just say it, he told himself fiercely and
blurted out: "I came to say goodbye." Great. Now he was going cliché.
Jims carefully set face didnt move, though Sandburg might have detected
a flinch in the jaw area. But then again, he didnt have Sentinel vision.
Where are you going?"
"Well, actually, Im not
totally sure yet. But I left the rent money in an envelope on the table, and I
cleaned out my junk. If you find anything I missed, toss it. Um, I cleaned up,
too. I used that scented stuff you like. Aw, man! The bottle was low and I didnt
pick up another to replace it. Here." He fumbled with his wallet and pulled
out a $5. He returned his wallet to his pocket with his left hand and shoved the
money toward Jim with his right. Jim didnt take it and Blair was uncomfortably
aware that his shaking was in full view now. He dropped the bill on the table
next to him.
"Um, OK. Well, I want to tell you none of this
was your fault. And this isnt some elaborate scheme to punish you or get
back at you or anything. I just think we need to move on, you know? I mean, its
not like I *want* to go, but I have to do the right thing, you know? And um
I dont blame you for pushing me away again. I crawled into your skin and
walked around a bit and I can see where youre coming from. Now you just
have to crawl into mine. Um, these last few years man, theyve been terrific.
I mean it. Really wonderful. Ive never been so, um
happy or content
in my whole life. I mean that. I really do. I appreciate all youve done
for me. Youve been unbelievable these past few years, Ive never had
anyone care for me the way you do- did. Even Naomi, she tried, you know? And I
know she loves me and all, but she never watched out for me or anything like you
do. She always wanted me to learn to let go, and to fend for myself because, man,
its a tough world out there. And I hadnt really *seen* that until
I met you and started doing all this police stuff. And yet you still cared for
me better than she ever did. Thats kinda twisted, huh?" Blair was in
full babble mode now, but couldnt get himself to stop. He also noticed that
he wasnt using his hands to gesture while he talked, but rather clutched
the edge of the desk so hard his hands were white. Kinda like he was going to
oh, the Sentinel thing. Well, you dont
need me anymore, you havent for a long time. I mean, you realize that. So
I know youre going to be OK.
And theres always Simon,
and now the rest of the gang. Rafe and Brown or Megan can keep an eye on you in
case you zone or something, but I dont think you will. And in case youre
going to say you didnt mean what you said about not needing me: I dont
know, man, I think that sometimes the things we say when were unguarded
are the things we mean the most. So you were right to say it and let me know I
had to get lost. Wait, that came out wrong. Well, you know what I mean. And, um
Yeah. I think thats it.
Ill try to write and everything.
Send postcards." He got off the desk and moved before Jim, who still hadnt
moved, hesitated, then threw his arms around him tightly. "I love you, Jim.
Im going to miss you." He pulled away and was proud of himself in a
surprised way that he had managed to not cry.
Then he saw a wet
spot on Jims shirt and realized that he *was* and somehow hadnt noticed
it, though he wasnt sure how that was possible. Oh well, at least he hadnt
made a fool out of himself by hyperventilating or something.
ran his arm across his face and turned toward the door. Frankly, he was expecting
Jim to grab him or yell or *something*, but he reached the door without a fight.
His heart fell when he figured that that must mean Jim was really relieved he
was finally going, that it had just been guilt keeping Sandburg with him, but
then he noticed that Jim hadnt moved at *all*.
man, Jim! You didnt zone, did you? Because I am *not* repeating that!"
he hurried back in front of Jim. "Oh *man* Jim. OK, lets do this
Blair sank comfortably into his role as Guide and soon was rewarded with Jim blinking
his eyes and focusing on him.
"I zoned," Jim spoke.
It was the first thing hed said since Sandburg said he was leaving.
you did. Are you OK? When did it happen?"
left." Blair frowned in confusion for a second, before getting it.
subtle, Jim," he said dryly.
"Guess I still need you,"
was Jims casual reply. However, his jaw was still clenched and he was staring
at Sandburg with fierce intensity. Blair sighed.
*deliberately* zoned. That-"
"That means I can deliberately
zone anytime," Jim cut him off. Blairs jaw dropped.
that a *threat*?" he asked in amazement.
need you." Just like that, straight out. Way to go, Jim. Next well
work on sharing crayons. "Maybe I convinced myself on the surface that I
didnt, but always, deep down, I knew that I did. And I hated that. Ill
do anything to get past this, just tell me what." Blair returned to Simons
desk and leaned against it, hands in pockets. He sighed heavily.
what youre losing, Chief." A pained expression crossed Blairs
"I dont have anything left here, Jim. Besides,
Im not just doing this for me, Jim, Im doing it for you as well."
Jim replied, and the chiseled look had finally melted away, leaving his features
stark. It almost scared Blair how vulnerable Jim looked just then.
give me twenty-four hours to convince you to stay. If you still want to leave-"
Jim swallowed "I wont stand in your way." Sandburg was silent
for a long moment.
"All right," he whispered. He owed
Jim that much. Jims face returned to stone, this time set in determination.
you, Blair," he cleared his throat. "Want to go out for lunch? My treat."
A small smile appeared on Sandburgs face.
after three." Jim shrugged.
"A snack, then. I could
eat." Blair straightened.
"Sure, where do you want
to go?" The scenario was so familiar, it embarrassingly choked Blair up.
Jim looked at him carefully.
"Where do you want to go?"
A bark of laughter erupted from Sandburg.
Now, *that* was unusual.
He appreciated what Jim was trying to do, but he wasnt sure if he wanted
things to change, or if he wanted Jim to keep up this act, letting Blair take
the reins. Jim gave him an odd look as they exited Simons office.
man," he apologized. "Just different, you know? Um, how does Skylarks
Deli sound? I have this terrible hankering for their potato salad." Jims
face relaxed slightly into a tiny grin.
"That sounds great."
They walked into the elevator.
"My car or yours?" Jim
asked as they began the descent.
"Better go with yours,
mines kinda crowded." Jim nodded and they were silent until they were
on the road.
"So, why exactly are you leaving? Give me specific
reasons." Jim finally said. Blair sighed- it seemed he did a lot of that
lately- and tried to organize his thoughts.
I think youre tired of me." Jim looked at him sharply.
do you say that?" he asked cautiously. Blair gave a brief outline of his
earlier reasons. Jim was quiet as he took in this new information.
youre wrong, but Im not sure how to convince you of that." was
what he said when he finished processing. "Would it help if I told you that
if I could have it my way, youd stay with me until I died? Or that I was
worn-out or preoccupied when I inferred to wanting you to leave, and it was simply
my way of venting? Or that thinking back on it, I am amazed with what I said and
or did, because I was talking about a bunch of bull? Ill tell you these
things, Blair, but you have to believe them. Because theyre true. I dont
want you to leave, and Im not simply saying that to make you feel better."
Jim pulled up in front of Skylarks Deli and cut the engine, but instead
of getting out, he turned to face Sandburg. Blair suddenly wanted this just to
be over. "I didnt betray you."
didnt mean for it to get published."
hurt when you accused me of everything."
Their voices were both soft and Blair realized he was crying again.
"Dont say that."
have *nothing*." Jim unfastened his seat belt, then reached over and released
"Dont ever say that." He pulled
Blair into his arms. Sandburg buried his face in Jims chest, his hands clutching
the strong arms. Jim rocked him awkwardly. Blair felt something warm and wet fall
next to his ear and tickle him. Jim must be crying too, he thought,
"Please stay," Jim asked, one of his hands
rubbing the back of Blairs neck.
He tried to remember his
reasons for leaving, but couldnt.
mumbled into Jims shirt front. The arms around him tightened.
not really hungry."
go get your stuff."
"Okay." He felt Jim sigh into
his hair, and then felt it shift, like Jim had rubbed his cheek or lips across
his head. Then he pulled away and refastened Blairs seat belt before his
own. It would be okay, Blair speculated, looking out at the cars going by. Just
not now. But soon, and with Jims help.
into the police garage, next to Blairs car.
me to the storage," he said, hopping into the Volvo. Jim nodded and smiled
at him. They had gotten a few odd looks from several officers, a result of their
tear-streaked faces. Blair buckled up and started up the engine.
the owner of the storage, looked a little befuddled to see Sandburg again so soon,
and with red eyes and a tall, imposing partner.
help me with this one, Jim?" Blair asked, grasping one end to one of the
"Sure, Chief," Jim moved to the other
end, and together they lifted it.
After getting it settled in
the back of Jims truck- bigger, more room- Jim moved away to pick up another.
However, something peeking out between the flaps on the top caught Blairs
eye. He hadnt taped some of the boxes shut, too tired and in too much of
a hurry, so he easily folded back the covers and pulled out To Kill A Mockingbird.
Jim?" he called, not looking up from flipping through the pages.
hefted up another box and grunted: "Yeah?"
you ever read this book?" Jim looked over at the book in his hands and nodded.
a good book."
"Yeah, it is, Chief." Blair found
the second quote he wanted: "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead
of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. Its when
you know youre licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see
it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." He looked
up and caught Jims eyes. They shared a smile, the first real smile Blair
had had in days.