The Road Not Taken
by Kira

Blair sat on the toilet in the men's room trying to calm the shaking that threatened to overwhelm him.  He was calm, he was cool, he was collected.  Oh, who was he trying to fool.  He was a wreck, a terrified, quivering wreck.  And one very pissed off Guide and lover to one Jim Ellison, who had ruined their lives in one fell swoop.

The day had begun so nicely.  It had been sunny, not that humid, bright, clear, and for Cascade, that was a miracle.  Jim had cooked him breakfast in bed, sesame bagel with blueberry cream cheese, fresh watermelon, and a pile of pancakes with real maple syrup.  The water heater hadn't ran out, his supervisor liked his chapter revisions, and Jim and he had enjoyed a lovely lunch on the university commons.

How the day had gone to hell so fast was beyond him.  Well...that was inaccurate.  He knew exactly how the day had gone from paradise to purgatory.

Jim had kissed him.  Nothing tongue-swapping, or spit smacking, or anything so delightful.  Just a little peck, a chaste little kiss.  Nothing big, nothing major, just a total sign of utter affection and love.

Right in the middle of the bullpen.  The.  Bullpen.  In front of everyone.  Everyone.

Jim had gone to finish getting his coffee, which had prompted the whole thing in first place, just Jim giving a 'I'll be back in a minute, sweetheart' kiss.    As soon as Jim had gone though, Blair stared at a space somewhere two feet in front of him as he bolted to the bathroom, locking himself in a stall.

So there he was.  Sitting on the toilet, ready to throw up at the drop of a hat, and finding it increasingly hard to breath.  The throaty wheeze echoed loudly in his head, and he became concerned when he realized that the echo wasn't just in his head, but was also throughout the bathroom at large.

"Blair?  You in here?  I thought I saw you run in here."

Rafe.  Damn.  Not Rafe.  Not Rafe.  Please not Rafe.

"Blair?  It's me...Rafe.  Come on.  I know you're here.  I can hear you."  Blair could hear the tread of his soft-soled shoes.  Then a hand tapped on the door.  "Blair, let me in."

Reaching over, Blair opened the door with a click.  The door swung open and revealed the dapper young man.  He walked into the stall and without further ado, crouched and pulled the stricken observer into his arms.  Blair clung to the silk suit, panting weakly, trying to blink the spots away from his eyes.

"God....Rafe...did you...see....Jim....kiss..."  Blair tried to talk between wheezes.

"Calm down, Blair.  You can barely breath.  Don't try to talk.  Just listen."  A gentle hand stroked at Blair's hair, trying to calm, trying to reassure.  "Jim loves you, Blair.  And he doesn't want to hide what you two share.  Making him stay hidden from his friends...and we are his tough on him.  He wears his heart on his sleeve more than he would think.  He doesn't lie that well."

Blair's chest continued to heave.

"What we shared, Blair, let me see into you.  I know you love Jim more than life itself.   I know that we weren't meant to stay together, but I'll always treasure the few months we had, and because of that I know how much Jim loves you.  Who couldn't?"  There was a world of regret, missed chances, and tinges of remaining love in Rafe's voice.  "But you and Jim have a destiny that no one, not even me, could compete with."  Laughter permeated the soft voice that whispered into Blair's ear.  "Trust Jim.  Trust that he knows what the two of you can handle.  Being 'outed' in the bullpen might turn out to be the best thing that ever happened.  You'll always face adversity, Blair.  But don't let that take the love out of your relationship with Jim.  Be yourselves, and if that means a little kiss or hug on the way to the break room, then so be it."

Blair's breathing slowly began to settle, and he turned his face up to look at Rafe.  The warm eyes that met his were filled with emotion so deep, and so incredible, that Blair felt his heart overflow.  Who was he to deserve the love of two men like this?  Their lips slowly met, a kiss to burn the memory of their past into their minds.

"I'll always love you, Blair.  Now go to the one who needs you."

Blair swallowed thickly.  If things had been different....but there was no place for 'what if's.  He and Jim were joined deeper than any love he had ever experienced.  There was no way around it, and Blair wouldn't have chosen a different path.  But knowing that Rafe still loved him hurt.  He didn't want to leave Rafe alone.

"You okay now?"  Rafe held his face between his hands, and Blair nodded, not trusting his voice.

"I'm okay." They stood, and Rafe held back his hair as he splashed water on his face.  Blair looked at the calm face in the mirror.