Choices

By: sharilyn

EMAIL: sharilyn

Rating: General, all ages

Summary: Another airport, Blair-coming-home again, reflective Jim's pov fic, ha.

Disclaimer: not my characters, not making any money, no infringement intended, etc.

Date: June, 2005

 

"Did I choose you? Did you choose me? And what difference does it make? All that really matters, friend, is that we chose together." ----Lois Wyse

 

Sometimes it was good to get away from each other for a bit, to give one another breathing space, Jim reflected to himself as he pulled his truck into the short-term parking lot at the airport and then sat staring blankly at his steering wheel. I mean, it gets OLD, both of us always being in each other's pockets, so to speak; what with living and working together, TOO much togetherness can be detrimental to this whole friendship thing we've got going. I'm sure Sandburg feels the same way...especially if the way he flew out of here last Friday like his ass was on fire is any indication of his real feelings about some 'away' time to himself, Jim snorted silently as he climbed out of the truck and locked it.

 

And it had been nice having the loft to himself all weekend, to not have to share the shower and the Sunday paper and not have to field umpteen phone calls from Blair's university pals wanting him to come out and play. Yep, Jim had had himself a nice, quiet weekend, and even though he hadn't been in the mood to finagle a date with any of the all-too-willing females of his acquaintance, it had been nice to know he COULD have brought one of them home without having to worry about privacy issues. He could just see Rafe and Henri rolling their eyes at him and muttering, "What a waste, man!" at his failure to 'score' while he had the chance; but as Jim strolled nonchalantly toward the entrance of the airport, he had to admit to himself that female companionship had been the furthest thing from his mind all weekend. Well, ALMOST the furthest; there had been a few pleasant moments spent speculating about Liz Gage, the new detective over in Homicide, and whether or not that pale lipstick she wore would taste like strawberries if Jim ever had the chance to kiss her and find out...But no, for some reason he'd been content merely to indulge in a few brief daydreams about the woman and then let it go, telling himself he could always make a bid for her attentions later.

 

So, what HAD occupied his thoughts for the past three days? Jim mused silently as he entered the airport's main concourse and veered casually around two rambunctious little boys engaged in a spirited tug-of-war over some sort of plastic robot toy. Well, his first night sans Sandburg, he'd spent a relaxing evening watching sports on tv, drinking cold beer, and scarfing down the last of the lasagna Blair had made the day before and had left for Jim to finish. He could have gone out that evening, sure, but he'd had a rough few days at work and was in no mood for any social activities. Besides, he couldn't help but find himself subconsciously waiting for the expected phone call from Blair that would let him know his hyper-excited roommate had made it safely to his destination, namely an anthropological get-together in Arizona. And when the call had come a bit after nine pm Cascade time, Jim hadn't really questioned the flare of relief and warm comfort he'd felt the second he'd heard Blair's cheerful, garrulous voice on the line.

 

The two of them had only spoken for a few minutes, and for almost the entire duration of the call, Jim could clearly hear Blair's fellow anthro- buddies heckling and teasing him in the background, urging him to hurry up with his check-in call to "Mom" so they could go get seriously sloshed their first night in town. Tamping down the instinctive flare of irritation he'd felt at the others' intrusion, Jim had centered his attention solely on the animated cadence of Blair's voice, his spirit lightening at the note of unfettered eagerness reverberating in his best friend's hurried rush of words. So while their actual conversation was brief and filled mainly with Blair's jumbled-together itinerary and Jim's adjurations to Blair to leave Arizona the way he'd found it (AND get himself back home relatively intact), just the handful of words they'd exchanged had been enough to leave Jim humming contentedly to himself for the rest of the evening, his mind and soul at peace as he left Blair to his fun in another state and settled himself in to enjoy the blessed quiet of the loft.

 

The rest of the weekend had flown by without incident, and Jim had busied himself with hobbies he'd neglected for months due to an overflow stack of backed-up cases at work. And with Blair away Jim didn't have to feel guilty for indulging himself in interests that were purely his own and not shared by his roommate; not that Sandburg would have in any way resented Jim's doing his own thing. It wasn't like they were attached at the hip or anything, after all. Aside from their busy coexistence and all the things they did share daily, each man still had his own individual interests and friends, and that was only natural and healthy. It was just that, whenever both men were home together, it seemed they usually ended up doing something together and pursuing mutual interests rather than going off alone. So Jim knew he should really be enjoying this time that he had completely to himself; he was sure Blair was thoroughly enjoying himself in Arizona, and he knew that his curly-haired guide likely wasn't wasting a spare thought concerning what his sentinel partner back here in Cascade might be up to in his absence.

 

It was only toward the very end of the long weekend that Jim had begun to feel it--that strange, almost uneasy sense of emptiness in the loft, his ears ringing with the stubborn silence that was usually filled with Blairspeak or Blairmusic or the steady tap-tap-tapping of Blairfingers on his partner's laptop keyboard. And when Jim had suddenly thought of something funny that one of the beat cops had said to him the other day, he'd experienced a weird little hitch in his chest when he realized that he couldn't just turn to Blair and share the joke. Of course he could always relate the anecdote to his friend later, and no doubt Blair would still be his laughing, appreciative self regardless of the delay in sharing the bit with him; but for Jim somehow it just wouldn't be the same later. The sense of spontaneity would be gone, ruining the joke in some ineffable way; and with the wasted punch line echoing sadly in his head, Jim had begun to find himself gazing speculatively at the silent phone, almost willing it to ring with Blair's voice on the other end, proclaiming his imminent return.

 

It was always like this, he'd found himself thinking somewhat ruefully as the waning hours of his long weekend off ticked slowy by. It was always the same, anytime he or Blair separated for a few days; behind the quiet release and satisfaction of securing some private down time away from each other, there always lurked this unnamed, unspoken thread of shared connection whose initially faint presence grew stronger and stronger as the days passed, till the invisible link between them seemed to fairly thrum with a sort of yearning, agitated energy across whatever distance that separated them. In a bizarre sense it was almost like an addiction, this bond he and Blair had come to share; in Jim's mind there was no question that after a certain amount of time without his Sandburg 'fix,' he always began to feel increasingly unsettled and jittery and irritated.

 

And while he couldn't speak for Blair's end of the deal, Jim could always sense each time they came back together that Blair was genuinely grateful to be with him again and was always eager to reestablish the intangible but undeniably strong bond that hummed between sentinel and guide like subvocal music--their very own magnum opus vibrating on a subliminal level all around the loft and their shared space in the bullpen at work. Perhaps their initial coming together had been born principally from Jim's desperate need to find answers to his dilemma in dealing with his heightened senses; but from the start something more, something DEEPER, had flared to life between them, and Jim was confident that Blair hadn't had to be coerced one smidgeon into embarking on the shared adventure their lives had become together.

 

It's all about choices, Jim thought to himself now as he reached the gate matching Blair's incoming flight information. For better or worse we both threw our cards down on the table and picked one another as friends, as roommates, as coworkers...though technically Blair was only there alongside Jim at Major Crime in order to help the detective manage the massive amounts of environmental input that bombarded his senses daily. Still, the younger man hadn't been FORCED into riding along with Jim; he'd chosen the task of his own free will, admittedly with a hint of trepidation at first but with no less enthusiasm for all his initial misgivings. And Jim had chosen to invite Blair to keep living with him at the loft long after the whole mess with Blair's place blowing up was over and done; by then Jim had become accustomed to having his long-haired, ever-inquisitive partner close at hand, and he hadn't let himself dwell too deeply on the strange sense of grief that flitted about inside his chest each time he considered the notion that someday Blair might want his own place again, far away from the loft. All he knew was that for now things were going great just as they were, and he was of no mind to make any changes anytime soon. He just hoped that Blair felt the same way.

 

"Thinking deep thoughts, Jim?" a familiar, lightly amused voice suddenly murmured into his right ear, and Jim jerked reflexively, mildly chagrined by his failure to notice that during his absorption with his own thoughts, not only had Blair's flight come in, but all the passengers had already disembarked as well and were busy greeting friends and loved ones or hurrying off to the baggage carrousel to claim their luggage.

 

"I'll leave the profound ruminations up to you, Chief," Jim replied sardonically, a wry half smile lifting his lips as Blair grinned up at him and gave his sentinel a light, affectionate thump on the shoulder. "And before you even get started...NO, I haven't been like this all weekend. This was NOT a zone kind of thing," he growled warningly, pre-empting any concerns in that area by his sceptical partner. Blair merely frowned slightly in response, his blue eyes studying Jim with practiced expertise; with an exagerated sigh, Jim pulled himself to his full height and resigned himself to being inspected by his nitpicky friend until the mildly suspicious frown line in Blair's forehead evened out and his face transformed into a near-blinding smile of sheer exuberance. His sentinel was indeed well; all was right with the world. And now the patented, 'Post-flight Blair Sandburg Wrap-up" could begin.

 

"Man, I am SO glad to be HOME!" Blair groaned dramatically and began talking at double speed, his flyaway hair sparking kinetically about his head as he first shoved his carry-on bag into Jim's hand, then grabbed the sentinel's free arm in an absentminded but no less peremptory grip and began practically dragging the other man toward the exit at the far end of the concourse. "You wouldn't BELIEVE how much those guys from the university can drink, Jim, and still be ambulatory. I'm telling you, any one of them could drink ME under the table any day. I think I'm going to have this hangover for at least a week," he grumbled as he tugged his unprotesting partner along behind him.

 

"Well, the alcohol doesn't seem to have affected your tongue," Jim retorted drily, and Blair flung an exasperated, ha-ha-very-funny grimace back at Jim over his shoulder.

 

"Just tell me you stocked the medicine chest with aspirins and Alka-Seltzers, please, Jim," Blair muttered, and Jim stifled a grin of pure happiness as he gripped his friend's shoulder and pulled him backwards to a stumbling halt. A puzzled frown on his face, Blair swiveled to look up at Jim with a querulously lifted eyebrow, only to find himself being pulled into a sudden, breath-squeezing hug as Jim's arms wrapped securely around him, almost lifting him off his feet.

 

"Good to have you back, Chief," the words came, sentinel soft, into the curve of Blair's left ear; and as the exhausted but goofily grinning anthropologist awkwardly returned the hug, his own voice was suspiciously husky.

 

"Good to BE back, Jim; I missed you, too." And, heedless of the multitudes of people streaming by on every side, the two best friends merely stood smiling at each other for a long moment, more than ever certain of the choices each had made regarding the other. It's all about friendship, Jim thought humbly as he absorbed the sight, sounds, and scents of his partner; and from the soft gleam in Blair's eye as he stood drinking his sentinel in in return, Jim knew that Blair felt the same. Time now to go home and make up for LOST time together, however brief that lost time had been; and maybe Jim would go ahead and tell Sandburg that joke Ramirez had laid on him; after all, what were friends for, if not to share a laugh together over cornball humor?

 

As Jim accompanied his roommate out of the crowded airport and into the bright sunlight, he decided that returning to work again in the morning wasn't going to be so bad after all, not so long as he had Blair alongside him. Both of them had had a great, relaxing weekend apart; but that only made the coming back together at its end all the sweeter. And with a strong friendship like the one he shared with his guide under his belt, Jim felt the universe opening up before him in all its vast potential. Yes; Sandburg was back home where he belonged, and it was going to be a good week.

 

The End

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