Crash and Burn
by Kira

I let myself into the loft, and expanded my hearing to make sure my roommate was still home.  It had become something of a habit since the day we had tossed Blair a gold shield and said "Welcome to our world."  But the jury was still out on that one.  No one was sure that Blair was going to take us up on the offer.  For the last two weeks, I'd watched as Blair cleaned out his office at the university, sorted through boxes and boxes of papers and returned almost as many boxes of statues, artifacts and books to the hallowed halls.

Blair burned the manuscript one night.  He didn't tell me, but I found the ashes and one small piece that you could only read if you had my senses.  Those damn senses.  The catalyst, the whole descent into...into...hell?  No.  Not hell.  Nothing could be hell with Blair there.  And that's the problem.  This whole mess would have been so much easier if Blair had been a self-centred son of a bitch who was more interested in money than his friends.  It would have been so much easier if I hadn't fallen in love with him.  But no, Blair was a generous soul whose mother couldn't take 'no' for an answer and who gave up his life for his roommate...who happens to love him more than life itself.  I could never hate Blair because I know that he would never do anything to hurt me.  He never has.

I grabbed a beer from the fridge, and realized that I had been hearing Blair's heartbeat on the balcony.  Given that it was more than a bit chilly, it seemed odd that he'd be out there.  My instincts told me to give him room.  My heart told me to go see if he was okay.  And, for a change, I decided to go with my heart.  Pulling another beer from the fridge, I ventured out onto the balcony.

The sun was already beginning to set.  Fall had definitely hit Cascade, and the few trees struggling to overcome the stifling smog were scattered with gold and red.  The air had a nip to it that promised frost, freezing rain and if we were lucky, snow.  The sky was cast in streams of pink and deepened into purple along the horizon.  But nothing in the glory of the nature before me could compare with the ethereal light that bathed and surrounded Blair.

He stood with his back to me, backlit with a halo of light.  His hair fairly shone with it, stray curls looking almost red in the dusk.  He was leaning slightly on the railing of the balcony, and at the sound of the doors opening, he turned his head to look back.

My breath caught in my throat.  I wanted nothing more than to throw myself at his feet and beg his forgiveness, his love, his all.  I wanted everything.  But I merely handed him the beer and stood by him, the silent strong one.  Being a Sentinel had advantages sometimes, and I made use of it, sneaking glances at him as we stood.

Dried tears were caking his face, the salty residue standing out to my sight.  His nose was a bit red and eyes just the tiniest bit bloodshot.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

Blair turned at my question, and stared deeply into my eyes.  The irises in his were deep grey, flecked with brilliant blue and I wanted to lose myself in their depths.  He turned away, a move I understood.  It's always easier to talk as if you were talking to yourself.

"I got a letter today from the bank.  They want me to start repaying my student loans."

There was a tiny hitch in his breath, and I knew that he was close to breaking down again.  The last weeks had been more than difficult. They had been a gauntlet, one in which he could show no weakness.  He had faced the press, faced the university, faced the P.D., and even faced me, with a strong front, accepting and apparently moving on.

"You know Jim.  I just realized something.  I've done a lot of things over the course of my life.  I mean, I drove my uncles rig, welded, rode horses at a cattle drive, been all over the world...." He trailed off, rubbing a hand over his eyes before continuing.  "But the truth Jim?  The truth is that I don't know how to do anything else other than what I've been doing for the last ten years.  That's all I knew."

My heart clenched.  I honestly didn't know what to say.  Blair turned to me, and the despair in those eyes was tangible.

"what am I supposed to do?"

It was a whisper, sentinel soft and full of yearning. Yearning for lost opportunities and for a security that was now gone.  Without any hesitation, I wrapped my arms around him and tucked his head under my chin.  His shoulders shook as the gesture released the pain.  Inhaling the earthy scent of his shampoo, feeling his study body in my arms...I wanted the moment to last...but realized that it would mean the pain would continue.

"Blair....I...."  I was never big on words.  They always seemed to clumsy compared to actions.  So I released my death grip and pulled back a bit.  Leaving one arm wrapped around his waist, I gently tipped his face upward with a finger against his chin.  Watery eyes, running nose, he was still the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.  Slowly, as not scare him, I lowered my face to his, watching his eyes widen, the lips part.

When our lips met, I didn't push.  I simply lay my lips on his mouth and pressed gently.  My hand seemed to have a life of its own as it ran up and down the broad planes of his back.  I kept my eyes open and was able to watch the thick eyelashes slowly lower and the shoulders relax as the tension leached out of them.  When I felt his hands move around my waist and on my shoulder, I began to deepen the kiss, lightly sweeping at his full lips with my tongue.  My first taste of unadulterated Sandburg.

When we broke apart we were both panting slightly and Blair had opened his eyes, fixated on my face.  His hands continued to move, one rubbing along the small of my back, the other kneading at my shoulder.

"Jim?"  It was a question but was loaded with answers.  I was almost blown away at the amount of information that one simple word could convey.  He loved me.  *He* loved me.  He *loved* me.  *Me*.

"There's only one thing you can't do Blair."  He looked at me in anticipation, a little furrow  between his eyebrows.

"You can't ever leave me."  Understanding dawned and he inhaled sharply.  There was forever written in my words and on his face.  We would be invincible.  Forget the press.  Forget the university.  Forget the P.D.  Together we had the future open to us, wherever it would take us.  And I would be there for Blair.  I would catch him if he fell, and he would support me when I stumbled.  That's how it would be.   Forever.  Together.  Naomi had told me that Blair thought he had his brass ring already; that it was all about friendship.  He was wrong.  It was about love.

And I had my brass ring and was never going to let him go.